Post Classifieds

Addicted to Plastic

By Rachel Perelli
On March 7, 2012

  • Students take in a meal in the recently renovated Prospect Dining Hall. Chris Zielinski


On Tues., Mar. 6, Common Ground hosted a showing of the documentary "Addicted to Plastic," directed by Ian Connacher. President of Common Ground Jane Duggan described this organization, for those who may not have heard of it, as a group that advocates for "environmental and social justice."

In theme with Common Ground's cause, the documentary "Addicted to Plastic" paints a vivid picture of the environmental non-biodegradable devastation that human beings have inflicted upon the earth.

 Connacher's main goal in exposing the reality of plastic addiction and hazardous waste practices around the world is to inform his viewers of a scenario that will likely make reappearance. Connacher states, "The Roman Empire may have been defeated by lead in their water pipes and I learned that we too might be risking future generations with the cheapest, strongest, most ubiquitous material ever invented. Plastic might be quietly poisoning us."

In this documentary, filmed in 2008, Connacher and his crew embarked on a "two-year odyssey around the world." In this time period the filmmakers visited "12 countries on five continents" in order to view how plastic is affecting ecosystems all over the world.

The first ecosystem visited, the Pacific Ocean, revealed perhaps some of the most shocking footage of the entire documentary. Clips of an ocean skimming reveals that, however pristine it may look from afar, the seas are in fact loaded with huge chucks of various floating items of trash and even some tiny pieces of plastic.

 In an experiment that took ocean water samples and compared the presence of plastic to the presence of plankton, it was concluded that "plastic was 10 times more present than naturally occurring food." 

Despite being visually unappealing and quite hazardous to various aquatic life, in order for the ocean devastation to hit home, some people must first see if and how this pollution related problem affects them personally, and affect them it does. 

Imagine this: when a little particle of plastic floats in the ocean, it attracts toxic oils and other pollutants to it. A fish sees this little enticing sphere as a fish egg and hurriedly ingests it, as well as the pollutants. A bigger fish eats a few of the smaller fish which have ingested the polluted plastic, and then that fish is caught and sold in a local grocery store. Just because society doesn't have to see the plastic in the ocean everyday does not mean that it is not affecting the health of the population.

Around the world, many efforts are being put into place in order to control and somewhat reverse the damage that has already been inflicted on the environment. Recycling centers are becoming more and more prevalent, alternate energy sources are being further developed and utilized and even in places like Kenya, where plastic bags are "the national flower," the people there are doing their part to reduce the use of plastic by transforming it into other useful items.

PSU is a very green campus and community that supports recycling and the use of alternative energy. And perhaps most importantly, values the environmental education and awareness of its citizens. Organizations such as Common Ground work hard to inform students about what is going on in the world and what they can do to help, and hope to show a thought-provoking and honest film every other Tuesday.

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