Student Film Influences Ban on Harmful Plastic Microbeads

When Gov. Jerry Brown approved a measure last week that will ban exfoliating microbeads in personal care products, director Christopher Jones (PROD–M.F.A. ’15) was driving home from work and heard the news on the radio. “I immediately pulled over and called Marcus,” he said. Marcus Eriksen is the subject of Jones’ short film Trash, Manufactured, which bolstered support for Assembly Bill 888. “Assemblymen Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) did a remarkable job crafting A.B. 888 – the most stringent of any microbead ban legislation to date,” said Jones. “This is a major victory for Californians and our planet that will hopefully bolster national support for the passage of the Microbead Free Waters Act (H.R. 1321).”

Plastic microbeads are one of the most dangerous sources of aquatic pollution today. In Trash, Manufactured, we explore the impacts of plastic pollution on our marine ecosystem with Eriksen, the marine scientist who linked the source of these deadly plastic microbeads to exfoliates used in over-the-counter facial scrubs. While we see the disturbing impact of our single-use “throwaway culture,” the film also has a surprising twist: Eriksen the marine scientist becomes Eriksen the artist as he transforms the harmful plastic debris into a stunning and surprising art form.

Trash, Manufactured, which was produced by Jim Jacobi (PROD–M.F.A. ’15), continues to be used as an educational tool in middle schools, high schools and at environmental youth summits across the globe. In support of California Assembly Bill 888, 5 Gyres (the nonprofit advocacy group established by Eriksen) and the filmmakers directly engaged state and local government representatives online, on the telephone and in person, sharing Trash, Manufactured with them to encourage passage of the bill.

The film, which won 2014 FOF Awards in the Best Documentary and Best Editing categories, also has educated (and entertained) festival-goers worldwide including screenings at Palm Springs International ShortFest, Newport Beach and Sidewalk film festivals, San Jose International Film Festival, and the Environmental Film Festival of Melbourne.

To find out more about the impact of plastic pollution on our oceans, please watch and share Trash, Manufactured and visit 5 Gyres.