Students and faculty were inspired to go home and remove plastic storage containers from their cabinets and reduce the influence of plastic in their lives after watching Bag It, a documentary film shown at the BLUE film festival that visited Auburn March 3-5.
The eye-opening documentary film, Bag It, shows the accumulating, detrimental impacts that plastic has on our environment and health. As a consuming society, we throw away a lot of one time use disposable plastics.
"Why would you make something out of a material that is going to last forever, and you're just going to throw it away," said the film's main character, Jeb Berrier.
Plastic is building up in our oceans and polluting our land and killing our animals. According to the film, some parts of the ocean contain 40 times more plastic than food for aquatic life. Persistent organic pollutants, chemicals and toxins, attach to the plastics in the ocean and become super concentrated after being absorbed by it, according to the film.
In the film, UN Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner comments on the detrimental impact of single use plastic bags.
"Single use plastic bags which choke marine life should be banned or phased out regularly everywhere," Steiner said. "There is zero justification for them anymore anywhere."
Studies have linked chemicals in plastics to a myriad of health problems. Bisphenol A is found in hard plastics and Phthalates are found in soft plastics. Studies have indicated that these chemicals disrupt hormone function.
Studies have shown that BPA affects the brain and reproductive system negatively. Studies have also linked BPA to prostate cancer, breast cancer, miscarriages, types of diabetes, Autism and other health problems.
The film points out that BPA is present in the plastic lining of cans. This is a fact that people may not realize.
According to the film 200 government funded studies have shown harm by BPA exposure while less than 20 studies conducted by chemical corporations have indicated that no harm is caused by BPA exposure.
In the film, well-known actor and committed activist Peter Coyote commented on the presence of harmful chemicals in the environment.
"We are keeping chemicals afloat in our environment in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence from other countries because the information is being systematically held from us."
"We are keeping chemicals afloat in our environment in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence because the information is being systematically held from us," Coyote said.
According to the film, Coyote is one of the few people who have taken a test that determines and quantifies chemicals in the body.
"When the results came, I was really shocked then I was angry because I had stuff in my body that should not be in the human being," Coyote said.
Results from this type of test are reversible and it is never too late to reduce the intake of these sorts of chemicals, according to the film.
The film challenges its audience to reevaluate consumption choices and reduce the influence of plastic in their lives. A few of the suggestions of the film include cutting back on use of single use disposables, not drinking bottled water, bringing own storage container to carry store bought goods in, volunteering to remove litter from the environment, buying less stuff and simplifying one's life.
After the showing of the film, Pat Williams, program manager for Auburn University's Office of Sustainability conducted a forum to discuss the film along with related environmental and sustainability topics.
Williams said reducing the use of plastic is an easy step in moving to sustainable practices. In the early 2000s, he and his wife removed plastic storage containers from their home and reduced the influence of plastic in their lives in other ways.
Williams informed attendees of the showing that the FDA allows more fecal chloroform in bottled water than the EPA allows in tap water. He said that in studies people have not been able to tell between tap water and bottled water when unidentified.
He also commented on exposure to harmful elements in the environment.
"Even if you made the right choice in your life or your parents made the right choice, you're still getting exposed at a larger scare," Williams said. "It's a societal issue for us."