Letter to the Editor

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Dear Editor,

Your front page story on the showing of the movie, Bag it [Documentary targets proliferation of plastic, by Gary Walker, Culver City News, Feb. 24], prompted me to spend my Thursday evening trying to get a better understanding of the issues around the proposal to ban plastic bags. Unfortunately, what I learned was that there is a serious litter and refuse problem, and that I should be terrified about how big corporations have a conspiracy to poison us with plastic.

The movie was done in filmmaker Michael Moore’s style of very fast cuts, showing experts stating their theories as facts – a lot of facts. Unfortunately, the facts are not completely true and, in some cases, misleading. The movie was approximately 90 minutes long and ran out of control with the Michael Moore-trademark of calling out the bad guy – in this case, the American Chemistry Council Spokesman –who then refuses to talk.

The filmmaker plagiarizes the movie, Supersize Me, with a five-minute scene in which he bathes himself in overdoses of sprays and lotions to see what effect it will have on his health, which he does not reveal factually. He even goes for cheap laughs, suggesting that plastics cause men to have small penises.

What is particularly troubling is that he does not connect his lifestyle to the overall problem. We see him trying to use his own cup at a Taco Bell restaurant and does not understand the health consequences. He praises Wal-Mart’s efforts to reduce packaging. Wal-Mart, of course, is the largest purveyor of cheap single-use products there is.

The film showed an Asian center that recycles our waste in order to make us feel that our trash is killing people that live in poverty around the world. The movie rambled and was deceptive. If all plastic is bad, he certainly did not have a problem with his girlfriend using a disposable plastic IV tube, or painting the babies’ room with latex paint. The movie also romanticizes the good old days of the 50s, with lead paint, asbestos and greater infant mortality.

The facts are that the world cannot sustain everyone having a cotton bag or replacing the use of plastic for toys with wood. We do not want to go back to glass and natural rubber corks for our IV bottles. We do not want to go back to oil-based paints, using heavy metals. We also should require our media to fact-check prior to saying that something is a fact.

The group that sponsored this screening wants to promote the cause of banning plastic bags in Culver City. I would like to see a better airing of the facts and the unintended consequences of a ban. I also would encourage the city not to require a fee on carry-out bags. Let the market decide whether or not to charge their customers for this courtesy.

Thank you,
Steve Raiken