Thursday, July 16, 2015

A "Clean Bin Project" Movie Night by MCR Maria K.

It was too hot and smoky to do much on the weekend, so my family (including my husband, daughters, parents and sisters) held a ‘Clean Bin Project’ movie night. To be honest, they weren’t too thrilled with my film choice because I’m always going on about waste reduction and living more lightly when it comes to using our planet’s resources, and they all wanted to see Big Hero 6 instead.

I had a feeling, though, that if I could manage to get the Clean Bin DVD started first, they’d be hooked. And that’s kind of what happened. Once the film’s main characters, Jenny and Grant, explained their competition to see which of them could produce the least waste in a year, interest picked up, I think because we were curious how they'd do, and were wondering how we'd fare in their shoes.

Grant and Jen's self-deprecating humour, as well as their ability to point out the idiocy of the waste that occurs in daily life made us chuckle – and groan. “How are we supposed to get around all that plastic food packaging?” was one question that was voiced as the show moved on. As my family members are all avid recyclers and most of us compost, the idea of reducing waste isn’t new, but the fact that a co-housing place with 20 families only produced as much waste as a single family dwelling kind of blew us away. We can certainly do better. For example, we don’t have to buy the long English cucumbers that are wrapped in plastic! Better to opt for unwrapped field cukes, or grow our own!

Grant and Jen made a great little documentary (I suspect it’s Grant’s original music that plays throughout) that incorporates snippets of historical TV shows and movies, and helps us to see that awareness of waste is a necessary step to reducing waste. Their story certainly underlines how wasteful our society can be. Grant’s throw-away neck brace made me cringe, as my husband recently spent a few days at the mercy of a healthcare system that hands out single-use items like there’s no tomorrow, often for good reason.

Being a follower of the MCR facebook page and blog, I had already seen the art of Chris Jordan (especially his baby albatross pictures) and heard Captain Charles Moore’s Pacific Gyre Garbage Patch stories, but my family hadn’t. I realized that I haven’t been the best at transferring my knowledge of the issues around over-consumption.  It also underlined for me the value of my MCR connections – I have learned a lot from facebook/blog sharing. Now I just need to be sure that what I know rubs off on others.

One way to do that is to have a Clean Bin movie night. It encouraged my family to think more about how they can reduce the waste they create by reducing their consumption – without me having to say a word, which was really great!  As we went our separate ways after screening the movie (and Big Hero 6 afterward to appease everyone), one family member asked another, “So what is one extra thing you are going to do to reduce your waste from now on?”

That’s the question we can all ask ourselves, whether we’ve seen The Clean Bin Project or not.

The Clean Bin Project is available at your nearest branch of the Edmonton Public Library, and it’s worth sharing!
Maria K. enjoys composting, recycling, and convincing others to do the same. Her regular writings are found at

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