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X Trillion film screening for the Great Big Green Week

June 28th, 2024

An X Trillion film screening was organised for the Great Big Green Week by Penrith Extinction Rebellion, with funding from Zero Carbon Cumbria. The film follows an all-woman sailing boat expedition to the “Great Pacific garbage patch” in the North Pacific gyre, to sample micro and macro plastics. The women onboard were from a variety of different sectors;=: sailors, product designers, scientists, illustrators…

The biggest surprise for the group upon reaching the gyre was the amount of plastic you could see – very little! Instead of a big floating island, most of the plastic was invisible, hidden just below the surface. But there, beneath the waves, was an extraordinary amount: plastic that we use in our daily lives that had found its way thousands of miles to the most remote region on Earth.

Much of the patch was made up of small fragments of plastics and transparent pieces which pose a significant problem to wildlife. It’s going to take all of us to act now and bring our skills to find a new solution to this problem.

A panel discussion with Eleanor Church, the film director, and Another Way’s Amy Bray, followed the screening. The audience posed a lot of questions about the role of recycling in fixing the plastic crisis, to which Eleanor and Amy both agreed that recycling has its place but only within the framework of a circular economy, rather than through downcycling (recycling plastic products into new items with reduced quality, which can then bleed microplastics).

We need to use less plastic in the UK and globally, and instead find alternative systems. Amy spoke about how plastics as we know them are inextricably linked to the climate crisis as they’re made from crude oil, incentivising fossil fuel companies to keep producing virgin plastics. Amy and Eleanor talked about the importance of education and inspiration through creative means, using film screenings to illustrate the issue at hand while inspiring people to actually change their own habitats and behaviour to influence consumer demand.

They discussed national and local solutions such as a bottle deposit return scheme, which has been implemented successfully in Germany and Scandinavian countries. Amy spoke about the importance of community-level initiatives in solving the waste issue and how creating a farm-to-table system that replicates the European farmers’ markets which we seem to have moved away from would provide locally-produced, packaging-free food. She encouraged buying from small shops rather than big supermarkets wherever possible and suggested the government should make that easier and more affordable.

A big shout out to Another Weigh, which has saved 16,000 items of plastic packaging just this year!