The Perils of Plastic

This feels a bit like confession: “forgive me readers for I have sinned; it has been over 2 months since my last post.” So much for my weekly installments.  . .

Grant and I got pretty wrapped up in our cycle trip across the country this summer, and I got preoccupied with organizing community screenings of our film, but there’s no excuse really.

So to get back on track, I want to jump in with what we did last weekend. Last weekend, we attended a heartfelt presentation by Jan Vozenilek about the growing problem with plastics in our oceans and its effect on Midway Island’s albatross.

Although we have known about these issues for a couple years, we were still both overcome with emotion; seeing Jan’s latest powerful images from Midway made it feel as if we were hearing it for the first time. In addition to sharing short films and images, Jan brought a collection of plastic collected from inside the stomachs of dead baby birds. I was astounded by how many lighters and toothbrushes there were in the pile, and it really hit home that this plastic was our plastic: stuff that we all use everyday is killing marine wildlife.

To balance all that doom and gloom, Jan shared some positive stories such as the girl in Penticton who campaigned to get her highschool to give up plastic waterbottles (and achieved success in only one year!) and how the videos his team took on Midway have reached thousands of people around the globe. If you ever get a chance to see Jan speak, I highly recommend it, but in the meantime, please visit

In the photo left to right… Joe Schweers (filmmaker), Jan Vozenilek (filmmaker), Grant, Jen, Taina (Plastic Manners – who is living plastic free for 2010!)



Filed under interactions, media

5 responses to “The Perils of Plastic

  1. Greetings Jen and Grant!
    Jen, hearing your confession I feel a little less embarrassed. After co-sponsoring your film showing here in Wakefield, Quebec back in August, I meant to write a blog post right away. Well, it’s coming eventually. We were thrilled to meet you guys and loved the film – a total inspiration fest. And I’m really curious to hear more of Grant’s music one day. Jan’s presentation sounds very powerful. I’ve seen Chris Jordan’s work on Midway Atoll, and look forward to checking out Jan’s – hopefully he’ll make it out our way one day to speak. Hope you don’t mind if I make a little plug, if you haven’t already heard – on November 6th, the Plastic Pollution Coalition ( is hosting TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch with a stunning array of top notch speakers. It was a pleasure to meet you both in August – thanks for making it to Wakefield. Best,

    • Hi Jay, Well, same here – I’ve been meaning to write a post on life without plastic, but haven’t got around to it yet. Yes, I just heard about the TEDx event! Posted it on our facebook today! Pretty cool, and you can live stream it from anywhere.

  2. Keith & Pauline

    I think a lot of the plastic in the oceans is not so much OUR STUFF from the land but it’s thrown overboard from ships. That’s the community that needs to be targeted. A personal story…In 1972, we sailed on the QE2 from Southampton to New York. We were appalled to see, every hour or so, an employee, throw a garbage bag and loads of other things over the stern into the ocean. We used to sit on the rear deck and even had wind-blown cardboard and plastic flying back up on deck and hitting us! I was so angry that I wrote to Cunard saying this was pretty poor from the “greatest ship afloat” (which it was at the time). Their sheepish reply agreed with me, and offered the lame defence that “this is the way it has always been done”. Has much changed in marine behaviour since the early 1970s?
    I think education and getting the sea-faring community on side is essential. Get them “on board” perhaps.

  3. Amy

    i just attended your screening on Mayne Island over the weekend (i live on the mainland and had missed your screenings over here, but just happened to be visiting mayne the weekend of the screening!) and thought you must be somehow associated with Jan and the Midway Journeyers!
    i viewed The Perils of Plastic several weeks back.
    i loved that your documentary included some coverage on Midway Island and Chris Jordan’s work there.
    your documentary was incredible! thanks so much for the work you did for it, i loved the overall vibe -very hopeful, light hearted (for the most part) and achievable. 🙂

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