“Just because plastic is disposable, that doesn’t mean it goes away,” says Jeb Berrier in the award-winning documentary “Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic?” which will be screened for free at the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton on Monday. “And where is away?” According to the movie, “away” is overflowing landfills, mountainous islands of trash in the oceans, and even our own toxic bodies.
In the past six months, Southampton Village has enacted a ban on plastic grocery bags, the Ross School hosted a forum focusing on plastic bottle use and abuse, East Hampton Village has followed in Southampton’s footsteps, the Amagansett I.G.A. has discontinued the use of plastic bags, and more attention is being drawn to the effect of plastic in coastline communities across the Atlantic seaboard.
It seems that the time is ripe for the Southampton environmental group S.A.V.E. (Southampton Advocates for the Village Environment) to arrange for the showing of “Bag It,” which follows Mr. Berrier, a regular guy and a host on Plum TV in Colorado, who tries to understand the American dependence on plastic bags. His journey leads him from his own small Colorado town to the worldwide issues of landfills, oceans, rivers, and plastic’s consequences to human health.
According to facts unearthed by Mr. Berrier and the filmmakers, the average American uses about 500 plastic bags a year for around 12 minutes apiece — a total of approximately 150 billion plastic bags annually. And that’s just in the United States. The single-use mentality in this country and many others has led to islands of plastic debris in the ocean; one of which is more than twice the size of Texas. Although the plastic photo-degrades eventually, it doesn’t go away, it just gets smaller, small enough to be mistaken for plankton and eaten by fish, which are eventually eaten by us.
The film, produced by Reel Thing Productions in association with the Telluride Institute, has bagged honors and awards at film festivals from Princeton, N.J., to Hawaii. Louie Psihoyos, director of “The Cove,” stated in a release about the film, “I didn’t expect a movie about plastic bags to change my life in such a deep and profound way. Gripping, funny, intelligent, and sure to change your life.”
The screening at the library is a celebration of Southampton’s recent landmark ordinance banning single-use plastic bags in village stores. Mackie Finnerty, a S.A.V.E. member, said, “We thought it was important to implement a plastic-bag ban in the seaside towns because plastic bags are frequently found in ponds, on the dunes, and along beaches. Plastic bags not only end up as litter, but they also kill birds and sea creatures, compromising our already fragile ecosystems.”
Although the 5 p.m. event is free, filmgoers have been asked to call the library to reserve a spot. The number is 283-0774.