by Susan Hellauer
Nyack, April 21 — I’ve always liked the way Maria Luisa Whittingham, owner of Nyack’s Maria Luisa clothing boutique, asks her customers, “Do you need a bag today?” How often do you really need a plastic bag? You’ll find yourself thinking harder about the question if you stop by Blue Rock School at 7p tonight to catch director Suzan Beraza’s award-winning 2010 documentary Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic?
The film starts with the premise that Americans use 60,000 plastic bags every five minutes; we toss these bags away mindlessly an average of 12 minutes after receiving them. Beraza zooms in on “everyman” Jeb Berrier as he navigates our plastic world. He’s no tree hugger, but decides to take a closer look at our infatuation with plastic and its consequences. When he finds that he’s about to be a father, his plastic odyssey becomes very personal – and alarming.
The truth is that there’s really no such thing as throwing something “away.” These bags don’t disappear. Our single-use mentality and dependence on plastic have created a floating island of plastic debris in the Pacific Ocean more than twice the size of Texas.
There’s plastic in the fish on your table and in the sea salt in your shaker. Its chemical components are in your body right now, and even in that of a child in utero. And plastic poses potential health problems in addition to the often talked about environmental problems. Two of the most common plastic components, bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, have been linked to cancer, diabetes, autism, ADD, obesity and infertility – even smaller penis size.
Actor Jeb Berrier was dismayed by the different ways in which plastic in the environment can cause harm. But he also “found some incredible people working hard to change what seems to have become the status quo.” Bag It makes it clear that it’s past time for a paradigm shift, but leaves its audience hopeful that, with an immediate change in attitudes, we can clean up our plastic mess.
The film will be screened Thursday April 21, 2016, 7p. Blue Rock School, Multi-Purpose Room, 110 Demarest Mill Road (Off Germonds Rd. Down the road from Clarkstown South HS), West Nyack, NY 10994