The Clean Bin Project: Documentary Film and Butt Kicker


My friend Jen emailed me a few weeks ago asking for help finding green organizations in my area that she could contact about her upcoming documentary screening. Because in case being a non-consumer for a year and generating no trash wasn’t treehuggery enough, Jen and her partner-in-crime Grant made a documentary about their year long experiment, firmly placing the two of them into the category of Eco Rockstars.

So I did what any loudmouth know-it-all would do and emailed her back with a few organizations to try as well as a link to Idealist.  In return, Jen gave me free tickets to the screening closest to me.  To be frank, she went above and beyond any helpfulness on my part.  Tickets to a movie screening from the filmmaker herself in exchange for a few links?  I hit the green lottery, my friends.

I skidded into the darkened movie theater just as The Clean Bin Project: Documentary Film began rolling last weekend, and sat down among the 20 or so other moviegoers who were eating their popcorn and sipping their sodas and murmuring to their friends.  Over the course of the movie, we watched Jen and Grant explain the project.  We watched them struggle to find retailers who would give them rubbish free groceries.  We watched Jen grow a garden and compost and make personal care products, and the two of them research ways of reducing trash and learn about what garbage is doing to the environment.

If you thought the Clean Bin Project blog was comprehensive, you should check out the movie.  Not only do you feel the desire to do something good for the planet, but you gain the kick in the pants that you otherwise wouldn’t get when you’re sitting home alone in your pajamas reading the blog to yourself and eating cheese (not that I have ever done that).  Because what’s better than realizing you’re killing the planet with your plastic soda cup than realizing you’re killing the planet with your plastic soda cup while in a roomful of people?

Seriously.  There came a point in the movie when Jen and Grant showed the work of artist Chris Jordan, who uses everyday disposable objects in art.  It was a piece showing 1 million plastic cups, the number of cups used on airline flights in the US every six hours.  What look like pipes snake across the image, but then we zoom in and see that they are not pipes at all, but a horrifying number of plastic cups stacked one inside another .  Every six hours?  We saw that and people in the audience began murmuring.  They fiddled with their drinks and rustled their now-empty popcorn bags, and I knew they were feeling guilty.  I even pulled out my trusty notebook and wrote it down in the middle of the film:

“Looking at the artwork and people are gasping, about half have popcorn and soda cups and water bottles.  Wonder how many people will stop using disposables or think twice in the future.”

(Yes, I bring my notebook to movies.  I’d show you, but it’s in reporter chicken scratch.  You’ll just have to take my word for it.)

I felt a moment of smug-awesome for having brought my water bottle, but it lasted only a moment.  Because while I am a bit green, Jen and Grant take it to a whole new level.  They do public speaking.  They started a garden.  They competed to see who could produce less garbage and made a documentary, for pete’s sake.

The whole thing was eco friendly and intense in that fun sort of “OH MY GOD I’M EATING POPCORN FROM A DISPOSABLE BAG,” sort of way.  Like you realize you could do so much more than you ever thought.

I recommend The Clean Bin Project Documentary for anyone who has ever had a squidgy feeling about plastic forks and knives, for anyone who has thought that the plastic packaging in grocery stores is getting ridiculous.  For anyone who has ever wanted to do more.  Go for it.  If you have the time and mental energy to think about reducing trash, go for it, because the rewards go beyond what you can do for yourself.  What’s the harm in doing it for the planet too?


©2011 at Simple Savvy, the simple living blog where I got my rear in gear this weekend and I’m doing more, gosh darnit.  It’s such a privilege to be able to think about reducing my waste.  All images courtesy of the Clean Bin Project’s press page.

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