Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (2013) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2277946/)
This film is widely available online, including Netflix.
1) The opening sequence reveals an albatross chick that has died from eating plastic. What is your reaction?
2) Why is plastic unique among other materials on earth? Where does it go when it is thrown away?
3) What is plastic made from?
4) The film draws on promotional footage from a time when plastics were celebrated. Does this material advance the educational aspect of the documentary? Why or why not?
5) Filmmaker Angela Sun is from which US state? What was her college major?
6) When Ms. Sun decides to produce a movie about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which remote island did she travel to?
7) Which birds are ubiquitous on this small island?
8) Ms. Sun is surprised to see the diversity of plastic goods at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. List three consumer products you’ve used that are visible in these scenes.
9) Where does most of this plastic debris at Midway originate?
10) Who discovered the Great Pacific Patch in the 1990s?
11) Where is most of the plastic debris in the ocean found?
12) Ms. Sun raises an important question as she ponders how plastics became so pervasive in our daily lives. She harkens back to the post-World War II industrial boom. What are your impressions of the footage she uses to ‘frame’ this era?
13) The local beachcomber, Lewis Goldsmith, discovers a letter in a bottle. When was the letter written?
14) What is the argument for corporate responsibility for the disposal of plastic waste? Do you agree or disagree that there should be incentives (or fines) for plastics manufacturers to ensure proper disposal of their products?
15) If the appropriate solution to curbing plastics pollution ultimately rests with the consumer, from your perspective how can that goal be achieved?
16) What are some of the reasons that coral reefs are important to people?
17) Have you ever visited a coral reef? What were your impressions?
18) Why are nylon fishing nets so damaging to coral reefs?
19) How many tons of fishing nets does the United Nations estimate have been discarded into the world’s oceans?
20) Why are micro-plastics more harmful than macro-plastics?
21) What is a persistent organic pollutant? How does this impact the food we eat?
22) What was bisphenol-A (BPA) originally designed to do?
23) Professor Fred Vom Saal is a leading BPA researcher at the University of Missouri. What is the aim of the study that he asks Angela Sun to participate in?
24) At Midway Atoll, about how many tons of plastic waste are consumed by albatross chicks each year?
25) Why is recycling not a silver bullet to curb plastics pollution?
26) Of the commentary on reducing plastics consumption offered during the film, Aussie surfer/activist Dave Rastovich shares perhaps the greatest insight. To paraphrase, he states that telling people what to do is generally an unsuccessful approach, but meaningful change can occur when people discover a truth for themselves. What do you think about his observation?
27) BPA is an endocrine disruptor that has important implications for human health. This film attempts to couch the dangers of BPA found in ocean-derived foods and consumer products to help shift consumer behavior. Is this argument impactful? Why or why not?
28) In the final sequences of the film, Ms. Sun confronts several industry executives in the plastics business. Some of the interviews are uncomfortably candid which ultimately results in her ejection. Do you imagine that such an approach would ever be effective in reducing plastics pollution in the oceans?
29) Most of us would agree that reducing plastics pollution is generally a good idea. After watching this film, what do you think is the best path forward?
30) Please share your thoughts on this documentary. What works? What doesn’t? Which segments feel most authentic to you? Are there some that feel inauthentic?
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