A Plastic Ocean Inspires Action

(left) Film cover of award-winning documentary, A Plastic Ocean, previewed at Westridge School on September 24. (top) Graph of the global plastic production from 1950 to 2014 from dw.com.

By Tiffany C.
November 1, 2018

Life in plastic, it’s fantastic. When Aqua’s hit song, “Barbie World,” was written in 1997, neither the Eurodance band nor the blonde bikini-clad doll herself was aware of the harmful effects plastic has had on the environment. In 2018, plastic surrounds us. In the last 64 years, global plastic production has increased by 309.5 million metric tons, which is 207% more since the 1950s. In just a week, the U.S. produces enough neglected bottles of water to circle around the planet more than five times. From car parts to synthetic fibers used in clothing, statistics are unnecessary to recognize how much we live a life in plastic.

 

On September 24th, the entire school attended a screening of A Plastic Ocean, a multiple-award-winning documentary film following an international team of scientists, explorers, and environmentalists in their journey around the world to document plastic pollution, specifically in marine life.  After playing a short clip from the movie, Brigette Allen, the Director of Partnerships at the non-profit organization Plastic Oceans International, discussed her mission to decrease the amount of plastic pollution in the ocean. She also answered audience questions about plastic use, especially in regards to Westridge’s role in helping the problem.

 

The Green Guerrillas, an Upper School environmental club, organized the screening and also presented several ways Westridge can reduce plastic pollution and use. “Green Guerrillas has been trying to reduce the amount of plastic available in the commons and the general plastic consumption of the school for a long time and has been met by mostly no’s,” said Corina D. ‘21, a sophomore member of the club. She believes the film’s screening will help educate the Westridge community on the impact plastic has on the environment. “The world is pretty delicate, so we’ve got to live on it wisely,” said Corina.

 

Since the viewing of A Plastic Ocean, campus efforts to reduce plastic usage have increased. Green trash cans for recyclable items and the elimination of plastic straws in the Commons are a few new additions to campus. A Plastic Ocean asks its audience to reconsider the fact that plastic doesn’t just go away.  Instead, plastic poses a considerable threat to our planet and negatively impacts many species, including the human race. Barbie’s lines about a fantastic life in plastic may not ring true in the 21st century, but her following lines offer a more hopeful outlook when a collective commitment is made to the environmental stewardship of all life: imagination, life is your creation.