The Garbage Movie is Anything But…

I’m happy to report that I made it to the Hamilton-Wenham Library for a screening of Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home . While it would have been easier to stay home after a busy day, it was one of those times where I knew I’d kick myself if I had skipped it. I was very glad I went…

The documentary focused on increasing awareness about the problem. Too much waste. Too much trash.  And, where the heck does it all go? And in whose neighborhood does it end up?  There were more than a few chuckles, and that was a good thing because there were more than a few shocking statistics and scenes, as well.

read on for more of my “review” such as it is…

The family that serves as the film’s creator Andrew Nisker’s “garbage guinea pigs” are very “average” (in a good way). Parents to three young children, the McDonalds admit that they hadn’t really thought much about where the trash even goes, but they realized, too, they probably should start thinking about it. And, think about it they do, throughout the 90-minute film documenting their 90 days of saving their trash…

The 90 days happened to include Halloween and Christmas and, not surprising to me, their trash seemed to double in the final third of the time, December! I was reminded of January 08 when the Time Well Spent concept first came to me. Christmas 07 had been disappointing to me, for the first time ever since having my kids. Too much stuff. Too superficial. Too commercial. Too much stuff (did I say that already?!). And the lingering question of what to do about it…

In addition to where the waste ends up, the documentary takes advantage of some jumping off points to discuss questionable sources of energy, as well. Particularly compelling, the mountain-top removal approach to coal that has already destroyed over 400 mountaintops in Virginia is documented. This enormous topic is tackled specifically in a documentary that I think was presented at this past springs Salem Film Fest, Coal Country. It was truly shocking to see the way the hilltops of Virginia are being destroyed and the physical impact of the coal dust and other waste.

Appreciating statistics myself, I was glad to see the dearth of facts GARBAGE included, daunting though they often were…  It wasn’t exactly uplifting but it was reality. 

The film didn’t go into the solutions but stuck to the awareness-building message.  When it comes to the life-changing curve of making new consumption habits, awareness is the place to begin… To walk away from the film without being more aware of our consumption, and the resulting waste stream to which we contribute, would be nearly impossible.

While some would say that the film doesn’t go far enough to promote real change, as a starting point, the film works. Because it is a starting point, it leaves the viewer wondering, “What next?”  Action. Change. Individually and collectively. Together, we can make the baby steps, and bigger steps, even leaps that will lead to the end of the throw-away society that we find ourselves in. And, it has to start in the home, driven by families as they become more conscious consumers, demanding change and an increased awareness by the manufacturers of the products they purchase and the retailers whose stores they choose to frequent. The creator of GARBAGE realized this and is working on GARBAGE 2, what to do about the problem, something to which he is inviting viewers of GARBAGE to contribute.

You can join their website for free and gain access to the first 20 minutes of the film. Perhaps you’ll even be inspired to contribute ideas to GARBAGE 2.

Another option is to watch The Story of Stuff on YouTube.

I believe that the trick is not to feel so overwhelmed that you freeze with inaction. Little changes are better than no changes.  And, little changes become habit, increase awareness, and very often lead to bigger changes. I’m the first to admit that I’m a born-again environmentalist! Rather than spending time dwelling on the years when I didn’t recycle let alone consider reducing my consumer choices or making choices that minimized wasteful packaging, I’m looking forward to a more aware future where my actions reflect my newfound knowledge. And, it works, so long as you take a positive, even playful, attitude toward this heavy topic. Too intense and the blinders go up, the heads back in the sand… Alternatively, the joy is taken out of life if we assume a gloom and doom outlook.

By my way of thinking, the more we are aware of our beautiful surroundings and the impact of our own actions on them, the more we will celebrate, honor and respect our earth, for our own sake and that of our children and grandchildren… But, that’s a post for another day… For now, get out and enjoy the great outdoors for a time today and you will be more mindful of your choices when you go back into the house, car or office to get on with your busy life.

Carpe Diem ~ Nancy

p.s. I’d be remiss if I didn’t again acknowledge the good work being done by the folks at HWGreen. Check out my previous post for links to this great group of people working to effect positive change in their own community – that’s where the hard work really happens. They are a great example and should be commended for all of their hard work! Kudos!




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