We’re Starting Production on a New Movie: The Story of Plastic

Flash back with us to January 1, 2016. With a microbeads ban in the U.S. having just been secured, we took a step back to think about what we’d achieved on plastics and how we could build on those efforts. We knew that while global recognition of the plastic pollution crisis was well established, the problem remained degrees of scale larger than the current efforts to address it. So, together with a few friends, we set out to change that.

With seed funding from Oak Foundation that spring of 2016, we worked with partners in Europe, North America, and Asia to develop a global strategy to combat plastic pollution, culminating in a meeting of 60 organizations in Tagaytay, Philippines to endorse a vision and principles around which we could organize. Together, we launched the #breakfreefromplastic movement in October, drawing hundreds of organizations to sign on within days. Today, the number of organizations who have joined is over 750.

In 2017 the members of this movement are launching dozens of high-impact projects together. We’ll get resources into the hands of the zero waste heroes forging city-based solutions in Southeast Asia, where the problem of plastic ‘leakage’ into the ocean is the worse; we’ll identify the worst-offending products globally and deploy targeted corporate campaigns to eliminate them; and we’ll rewrite the false ‘better living through chemistry’ narrative that industry has been pushing for decades.

For our part, The Story of Stuff Project will focus initially on storytelling to jumpstart our corporate and legislative campaign efforts down the road.

On a warm early March day in the San Francisco Bay Area, we began developing one of our most ambitious film projects since the original Story of Stuff. With blank pieces of butcher paper on the wall of Berkeley’s Ecology Center, we gathered Sarah Menzies, director of our very own Our Water, Our Future; Deia Schlosberg, producer of How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change; Megan Ponder, materials and plastic expert; Ruben DeLuna, the producer and animator behind the original Story of Stuff; Jonah Sachs, founder of Free Range Studios and storytelling expert; Froilan Grate and Monica Wilson, zero waste experts from GAIA; and from The Story of Stuff Project, Michael, Stiv and Shana.

We asked ourselves the hard questions: is this a Story about a system in crisis? Is this a Story about oil and gas extraction driving the ever-increasing volume of plastic in our world? About sachets in the Indonesia? About pollution from informal recycling in China? About waste pickers in India? Is it a story about folks in the global North proposing incinerators all over Asia? Even though we’d gathered to talk about plastics, we knew the heart of the story was not a Ziploc bag, a straw, or a spoon. The real story is about people.

With this new movie project, what we’re excited to show is the extraordinary heroes in communities from the Philippines to South Africa and many places in between who are flexing their citizen muscles, working with governments and scaling up zero waste and other city-based Solutions. THIS is the story we want to tell. And we so fired up about it!

‘The Story of Plastic,’ as we’re tentatively calling it, will help break down misconceptions, lift up Solutions and move viewers from concern to action. And we’ll need your support every step of the way.

Will you join us today?

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