I just watched the 2012 film Trashed. The film started out a bit slow, and I was afraid it was going to be rather mundane... but I ended up quite enjoying it. The film is based in the U.K., but talks about trash problems throughout the globe. It touches on increased birth defects and cancer rates for people who live close to landfills. It talks about the huge amounts of waste in our oceans, and how that waste harms wildlife. Plastics can release chemicals, and they also absorb chemicals, making bits of plastic in our oceans turn into toxic pellets. These toxins accumulate in the organisms that eat them and then magnify as they move up the food chain. Many of these chemicals are hormone disrupters, which means they can affect reproduction. Killer whales and other organisms at the top of the food chain carry the largest burden of these chemicals and their populations are now in decline because of this. In fact, researchers studying these animals often have to dispose of the carcass as hazardous waste because these animals have so many toxic chemicals in their system. Unbelievable. How did we ever let our planet get this way?
The film also discusses WTE (waste-to-energy) facilities, which burn trash to create electricity. I myself have toured a WTE plant here in Oregon, and the whole concept seems to make sense. We get rid of our waste, and simultaneously create electricity, without strip mining, fracking, or wars. However, the release of dioxins from these facilities is a huge concern. Dioxins are created by burning plastics and these nasty chemicals cause cancer and birth defects. These dioxins accumulate in organisms and sadly, when a mother gives birth to a child, she passes much of her accumulated burden of chemicals, including dioxins, on to her child. The effects of this can be seen with mothers in Vietnam, where Agent Orange (made by Monsanto, by the way) was sprayed during the Vietnam War. This Agent Orange was contaminated with dioxin, and many of the children in this area suffer from severe birth defects (still, to this day!). This part of the film brought me to tears... for the children, the mothers, and the complete injustice of our world.
The film, as most environmental documentaries, ends with some glimmers of hope for our future. Individuals making better choices when shopping (such as choosing products with less packaging), composting food waste, and making recycling easier. This film was a great reminder that as a population, we have a long way to go to fix the havoc we have reeked on our environment. And, in turn, how much I have to do personally to play my part in this rehabilitation.
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