Beraza’s “Bag It” featured at 32nd annual Moutainfilm in Telluride

Beraza’s “Bag It” featured at 32nd annual Moutainfilm in Telluride

Telluride local Suzan Beraza is no Rothschild, so she chose to address this daunting eco-challenge in her own special way. Beraza is a filmmaker and editor, so she made a movie.  In a way “Bag It” is a populist response to the Sixties pop phenomenon, “The Graduate,” the film that predicted a future of plastics. “The Graduate” was right. Too bad for us. “Bag It” is right too. That’s the good news – if we act now.

Beraza’s “Bag It,” as much call to action as documentary, is a penetratingly smart look at our society’s use and abuse of plastic, focusing on the ubiquitous substance as it relates to our throwaway mentality, our culture of convenience, our over consumption of unnecessary, disposable products and packaging, all the things we use once and toss away without a second thought. But where is AWAY? “Bag It” is funny, though not in the jokey sense. Its barbs hit hard and penetrate.

To date, “Bag It”  has won Best Documentary/Audience Award at the Ashland Independent Film Festival and took second place in the same category at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival. “Bag It” was viewed as a work-in-progress at the D.C. Environmental Film Festival and is to be featured at the upcoming Mountainfilm in Telluride Festival, Memorial Weekend, May 28 – May 31. Screenings are scheduled Saturday, 3:30 p.m. at The Palm and Sunday, 4 p.m. at The Nugget.

David de Rothschild, an heir to the family banking fortune, built a 60-foot catamaran almost entirely of used plastic bottles. In tribute to Thor Heyerdahl’s Pacific crossing in 1947 on a raft called the Kon-Tiki, Rothschild named his boat Plastiki. Some time soon, if not now, Rothschild and his crew should be floating somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on their very ambitious 11,000-mile itinerary. The goal is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an island of waste plastic trapped in a gyre of currents in the north Pacific between Hawaii and Japan about twice the size of Texas and growing. Rothschild’s goal is to draw attention to the perils of ocean pollution, especially from plastic waste –and suggest ways to turn that waste into a resource.

The face of “Bag It’,”  its answer to Rothschild, is Telluride’s own Jeb Berrier, a morning show host on Telluride TV and a popular actor/director. As Everyman, Berrier takes us on his journey from fence sitter to ardent crusader. Berrier and his partner Anne make a pledge to radically decrease their use of plastic at home and encourage us all to do the same. And with good reason.

According to the “Bag It” team:

•  The average American uses about 500 plastic bags each year, for an average of 12 minutes before they are discarded.

•  Two million plastic bottles are consumed in the U.S. every five minutes, but less than 25% are recycled.

•  The average American contributes 800 pounds of packaging waste to landfills per year.

•  14 million pounds of trash end up in the ocean each year.

•  Plastic debris resembles plankton—fish food—and there is 40 times more plastic than plankton in some parts of the ocean. In this way plastic enters our food chain.

•  It is estimated that 100,000 marine mammals and sea birds die every year from becoming entangled in or ingesting plastic debris.

•  Plastic bags are made of fossil fuels such as petroleum and natural gas, non-renewable resources.

•  The U.S. was once the largest exporter of oil in the world. Now, it is the largest importer.

•  Ireland reduced its plastic bag use by 90% after instituting a fee on single-use disposable plastic bags.

•  China banned “ultra thin” plastic bags in 2008. They reduced their use by 40 billion bags in the first year.

“Bag it” is the direct result of a pledge Suzan Beraza made a few years ago to stop using plastic bags. The pledge became a short film which grew legs.

To learn more about “Bag It” and what you can do to make a difference, click the “play” button and listen to Suzan Beraza’s podcast.

Final film selections available at:

Full details of Mountainfilm in Telluride’s 32nd annual festival schedule:

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