‘A Plastic Ocean’ reviewed

A sparkling deep blue view of the ocean beneath the waves, the opening shot of the film – and an impactful one at that – and this, a fantastic quote to kick-start an emotional rollercoaster…

“…consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself?” – Moby Dick

I was fortunate enough to land a ticket to Bristol Media’s recent private viewing of A Plastic Ocean. I knew I’d find this film a hard watch and I knew what I was getting myself into. But still, it grabbed me in ways I couldn’t even imagine.

Jo Ruxton – what a lady. Working for the WWF in Asia for 7 years, before joining the BBC Natural History Unit as a Producer. Today, she is the co-founder of the Plastic Oceans Foundation and Producer of the film A Plastic Ocean.

Her ambition and drive was immediately apparent as she introduced the film. Eight years in the making, she never gave up her dream of getting this film out into the public domain. And it’s paid off – going live on Netflix next week and ready to buy and download from the website. However, awareness is just the tip of the iceberg. Action is needed, now.

‘More than eight million tons of plastic is dumped into the sea every year.’

Just one of the horrifying stats revealed in the film, and one that is simply incomprehensible. You can’t even put it into context or imagine how, or more importantly, why this happening.

This is one of the reasons I believe this film is a game changer. Forcing us to ask these questions and not only demanding answers but also solutions. The realisation that we can’t keep being supplied with an idealistic view of nature; holiday brochures, TV Ads and even nature documentaries – they are all guilty of shading us from what is the reality of beaches and rivers full of plastic bottles.

“I’m positive, because it’s better than the alternative.” – Tanya Streeter, Champion Freediver and Plastic Oceans Foundation Ambassador

Hope is an emotion I didn’t think I’d feel after watching this film considering the amount of hard-hitting content it provided. However, the projects and initiatives shown at the end of the film tackling this monstrous problem are simply incredible.

To list a few:

plasticbank.org

plasticfreeocean.org

zerowasteeurope.eu

pyrogenesis.com

plasticenergy.net

Once the credits arrived, I don’t think there was a dry cheek in the house. The feeling of being in a room of passionate people, watching something so momentous, was just incredible.

After the credits, Jo Ruxton came back to the front and did a Q&A of the film.

Obviously, the response was overwhelmingly positive. There were quite a few filmmakers there and the praise for the production was sky-high. I still think we should have given her a standing ovation!

However, there was another prominent feeling in the room, frustration. It was palpable from some people – the lack of knowing how to go about tackling this problem as an individual.

Jo’s responses were pretty straightforward:

Spread the word and demand change.

There was an overall suggestion in the film that the ‘bottom up’ approach was possible – that maybe legislation wasn’t the only route to change.

There was a point in the film focussing on supermarket food packaging. The discussion turned to how maybe a way of combating this was taking your food out of the packaging and leaving it in the supermarket to deal with – can you imagine if everyone did this in one hour, or a day or a week in a supermarket?! There would be mountains of plastic for them to sort out. But the message is a strong one, it has to provoke a knee-jerk reaction.

She said that this was an extreme case. But another less dramatic method that could be initiated by individuals could be a plastic free aisle – like a lot of health food shops are now doing. Once the demand for this is strong from individuals who shop there, there is also pressure for the supermarket to open another plastic free aisle with more products, and another, and another, so on and so on.

I could go on and on about the questions that were asked. But overall, Jo took some pretty hard questions and dealt with them in a professional, concise but caring manner. I was seriously impressed.

After leaving the screening, I felt slightly shell-shocked. And all the stats, images and questions were spinning around in my head. But one slice of information really stuck with me…

‘Plastic pollution now reaches virtually every part of the planet. One of the most observable changes on the planet in the last 50 years has been ‘the ubiquity and abundance of plastic debris. It is likely that in the first ten years of this century we have used more plastic than we did during the whole of the last.’

And despite the fact my mind felt like it was racing at a hundred miles per hour, one thing was crystal clear. We need change, and we need it now.

Reviewed by Becky Root

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