I polished off a bag of store-bought chocolate chip cookies before I sat down to write this, but it was hard to enjoy that last bite. The packaging the cookies came in (a combination of a plastic tray, to keep the cookies from crumbling, and a glossy paper bag) could not be recycled, so I was forced to put it into the regular trash bin. Having just watched the documentary, Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home, I feel a lot more guilty about this than I normally would. All I can think about is Mary Bradford in Michigan who sees — and feels — about 260 dump trucks race by her home each day. â€œOur house actually shakes,â€ she says.
Garbage! forces viewers to reevaluate their â€œout of sight out of mindâ€ lifestyles. In fact, the documentary turns this familiar saying on its head by convincing the McDonalds — a family of five from Toronto with a diaper-wearing baby, a kitty-litter-using cat, two SUVs, and a fondness for conveniences such as juice boxes and paper plates — to keep their garbage in their garage for three months. As the bags fill up, director Andrew Nisker visits Toronto’s green bin and recycling processing facilities, as well as Huron County, Michigan, where our garbage is currently sent. Nisker also starts asking questions about the other kinds of waste we produce, including air pollution from cars and coal-burning plants and water pollution from road runoff and sewers. His inquisitiveness takes him to west Virginia, where mountain tops are blown off to mine coal to produce our energy, and, closer to home, the Don River, where polluted water run off and sewage freely flow.
In the end, you’re left feeling ultra-aware that every bit of waste we produce has a consequence. I can visualize the containers from my last take out meal traveling on a truck to Michigan, picture the plastic bags that contain the food scraps from my green bin being separated from their contents in a big vat of smelly sludge. And I now know what happens to cars when they die. As both Toronto and the Province strive reduce the amount or waste we send to the landfill, this is a film worth watching for anyone still looking for an extra kick in the pants to make the changes necessary to live a life with considerably less trash.
Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home plays at 9:00pm tonight at the Al Green Theatre.