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Bag It is a humble documentary, shot on video, by a man and wife who come across as amateur documentarians. Their message is that we use too much plastic.

“Dear lord, not another cheaply made environmentalist movie,” I hear festival-goers wail. I was right there with you when I started to watch.

Berrier gets buried in plastic
Berrier gets buried in plastic

But Bag It won me over. Director Suzan Beraza’s husband hosts the movie. Stocky, bearded Jeb Berrier is no Brad Pitt, but he is likeable enough, inviting the camera into his life as he educates himself on the scourge of plastic bags.

Beraza and Berrier never belabor any particular point; they keep the documentary moving. A key point is that plastic is too often manufactured for a single use. Take home groceries and then throw the bag away. Drink the water then toss the bottle in the bin. Simply calling attention to this notion is an eye-opener.

They follow it up with how hard to recycle plastics are. Sure, everyone knows that plastics go in the recycle bin, but those numbers in the triangles are important, and some plastics are more recyclable than others. A lot of what gets put into the bin can’t be recycled and ends up as trash. That’s something most of us don’t think about when we recycle.

Then there’s the idea that plastic doesn’t decompose. A lot of it ends up in the great pacific garbage gyre.

And then, we get another eye-opener about the biological damage from all that floating plastic. Albatrosses from Midway island swallow plastic bottle caps, and it kills them. Midway island is essentially uninhabited, yet the amount of plastic collected on the island (from the undigested remains of dead birds) is measured in tons.

Since watching Bag It I can’t look at a 1/2 gallon milk box without getting a little angry. You used to open the box by breaking a seal, folding the wings back, and puckering the opening. Now you open the box by unscrewing a little plastic cap that you have to throw away. I can’t stop thinking that my plastic cap might end up killing an albatross someday out in the pacific. What was wrong with the cardboard opening? Why go to the trouble of “improving” something that worked so elegantly?

For a humble documentary shot on video by seeming amateurs, Bag It makes a lasting impression.

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