Directed by Candida Brady and starring Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons, Trashed depicts a vivid picture of the truth of our current consumption-centered, throwaway culture. Through interviews with scientists, researchers, politicians and local communities, the documentary reveals the appalling consequences the way in which we dispose of garbage has on nature and human society – including groundwater and land pollution, greenhouse gas emission, the health risks to animals and human, and more.
Trashed takes a global perspective on the problem we are now facing. It is not just the garbage tank in your backyard, it is the trash mountain on Lebanon Shore, the waste disposal site in the UK, the incinerator in Iceland, the orphanage in Vietnam … waste is an everywhere in the world, and it is affecting all of us. In our world of fast-moving consumer goods, we are getting used to the same routine: purchase, use, discard and repeat, and only a few of us have seriously thought about what we are actually doing. Just as one interviewee says in the movie notes, “we don’t think about the consequences when we throw the packages and the used products away”.
Perhaps the most astonishing scene in the movie is the trip to the children’s hospital in Vietnam, which is a bloody case of what can happen after intense dioxin exposure. Between 1962 to 1971, the US military sprayed the herbicide “Agent Orange” over almost 12% of the land in Vietnam as part of its herbicidal warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand. to remove the dense jungle foliage that provided cover for Viet Cong troops. However, even after over 40 years, the shadow of Agent Orange still looms over the areas that were sprayed heavily with the herbicide and has caused at least 150,000 birth defects in children.
In the movie, Irons walks us through the room that is lined with preserved remains of infants with birth defects. He introduces us to the children in the institution who must be taken care of by professional nursing workers, and to a family with a little girl who was born without arms and legs. According to the experts, it would take about six generations to eliminate the dioxins we are already all carrying in our blood. We are literally ruining our future generation.
But, hope is always there behind the darkness. In the last part of the movie, Irons shows us a group of people who are striving to change the current way of consumption and are committed to creating a zero-waste future: the woman in Ross-on-wye who only produces one carrier bag of waste due to her conscious purchasing decisions; the shopkeeper in London whose store doesn’t use packaging; the recycling program in a British prison that is designed to treat food waste and produce methane, instead. The point is, the movie shows us that,no matter how serious the problem that garbage is creating, we can find solutions to manage it.
I’d definitely recommend watching this movie. It’s a powerful documentary that everyone should see, and is a wake-up call to people who haven’t realized the consequences of simply throwing away waste.
If you’re interested in the global waste problem, check out the Trashed website for more details.
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