Thursday, March 13, 2008

'Garbage - The Revolution Starts at Home' - interview with the director of the film, Andrew Nisker

One of the problems with Garbage is that we don't see it after we throw it away. What happens with it afterwards? What are the environmental impacts of our garbage? And actually how many garbage we produce? Tough and important questions, but unfortunately we rarely ask ourselves these questions. Now a new film helps us to get some answers.

Andrew Nisker, a Canadian director, decided to check what happens when you don't throw the garbage away and leave it at home. His good friends, the McDonald family volunteered to keep the garbage at home for 3 months and keep track of their garbage. The result of this fascinating experience is the film 'Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home'.

This film was released three months ago and already gets a lot of media attention and already was seen by many people all over the world, and even more important - it moves many people to think about their garbage and take action!

I wanted to learn more about the film and its vision and interviewed the creator and director of the film, Andrew Nisker -

How did you come up with the idea to the movie?

There was a garbage strike in 2002 and I walked through a park where the trash piled up and started to think about all the waste we generate. I started to wonder what would happen if the garbageman stopped picking up my trash. Would that have a profound impact on my consumption habits?

So instead of subjecting myself to self imposed garbage strike, I found some willing victims (the Mcdonald family) who were willing to succumb to my experiment and keep their trash for three months. I figured if I could document the process and share it with audiences they too might start to think about the impact their lifestyles is having on the environment. The film is not just about garbage its about all the waste a typical household creates by driving, cleaning, eating…

What was the thing that surprised you the most during the making of the film about garbage and its environmental impacts?

I realized that we create a lot more trash then we think we do and how easy it is to cut that trash output. Anybody can take a pollution audit and say “ what can I do to change and create less pollution?”.

When I clean my house, can I get rid of those chemical cleaners and use more natural ones? When I buy take out food, can I bring my own container? Can I drink tap water instead of bottled water? When I get a new car can it be more fuel efficient or better yet can I get rid of it all together?

Aren't you afraid that by focusing on the environmental impacts of individuals, you're giving companies and governments the legitimacy to continue in their acts? shouldn't we first demand from companies and governments to make changes because of their ability to significantly influence our lives?

I say do both. Demand but lead by example. The only way governments and business big and small are going to change is by pressure from below. By voting and voting with your pocket book, governments and corporations will have no choice but to change. Every vote counts and every choice you make during the course of the day matters, as far as the environment is concerned. The most important thing is to realize you have the power to make a difference. Take it as a personal challenge and have fun making the changes you believe are important.

I saw your interview with Fox News, where you explain that the film doesn't try to make people abandon their modern lifestyle, but rather than that, just wants people to reexamine their lifestyle and start thinking about things differently. Do you think that we can really achieve significant results from taking small steps (like stopping using plastic bags)? don't you think we need a more radical change in the way we live and consume?

Radical change would be nice but its not realistic. Underwhelming not overwhelming people with the issues at hand will lead to positive results. Like the title of the film says, THE REVOLUTION STARTS AT HOME. Taking small steps at home, as I point out in the film make huge difference.

How did the film changed the McDonald family? are they still good friends of yours?

Yes, they are good friends and they have gotten rid of one their SUV’s. Stopped drinking bottled water, using plastic bags and are much more environmentally aware of the impacts of their lifestyle. They avoid over packaged goods. Have gotten rid of chemical cleaners. Simple steps that over the course of a year add up to a big savings for the environment.

You want the film to be more than just a film - you want it to make a difference and you try to distribute it in a very unique way that is using social networking to spread the word about the film. How is that working for you? how many people have already seen the film? can you give us few examples how the movie inspired other people to make a difference?

Since the release of Garbage! a mere 3 months ago over 70 communities have screened the film world wide, 20,000 visitors have come to our website at , over 2000 people have joined our mailing list, Super Channel licenced the film for nation broadcast in Canada, it has been programmed for the 2008 Hot Doc’s film festival , sold over 1000 dvd’s through the online store and at local screenings and over 100 schools, universities and colleges have bought the film throughout the English speaking world.

We don’t want people to just see Garbage! we want our audience to take action and join our online community and help us have our film screened world wide by hosting screening parties.

We also want viewers to upload videos that inspire others to change. Tell us what you are doing to reduce your environmental impact.

Here are some example of how the film has inspired our audience…

Tappening – is a movement to put an end to bottled water. It was inspired by Garbage! They have over 1.9 million pages view on their site thus far and have sold ten of thousands of reusable water bottles.

Catherine Porter a reporter for the Toronto Star who interviewed me about the film was inspired by the west Virginia coal story and went down to Coal River Valley, Wv and wrote an expose for the paper.

Fleming college held a coffee cup garbage audit to reduce coffee cup waste after viewing Garbage!

A group of students at a local high school where the film was screened is now pressuring their cafeteria to get rid of disposable plates.

There are more examples with video on our website at

What would an acceptable "garbage footprint" be for a family like the McDonald family?

I don’t know. Everyone is different and its not for me to tell others what is acceptable.

If people do the best they can to decrease their trash"garbage footprint" - what's next? what would you recommend they do further?

Get others to do the same. Host a screening party and share you experience.

You end the film with an optimistic message and a sense that we can change things. I actually finished watching your film and felt very gloomy after seeing all environmental damage that we're doing without noticing it. How did you manage to stay so optimistic?

My son represents the future for me and I can only be optimistic about the world he about to inherit. It’s not easy knowing what I know but I know we are finally starting to change. Remember when I started this film in 2003 green ideas were dismissed by mainstream media. 2007 was the year the Green revolution arrived and it is here to stay.

How did the making of this film influenced you (and your garbage) personally?

I have curbed my drinking of bottled water by 95%; I purged my home of chemical cleaners; I use my car less and walk more. I think about everything I buy and choose products based on packaging and how they are manufactured.

What's next? I saw you're already thinking about a sequel - Garbage 2! can you elaborate about your plans?

Garbage 2 is going to be a film made up of user generated content submitted to our site. A film by the people for the people so I encourage everyone to take action and tell us what you are doing to change your world. The best pieces of content we will put together in a video mash that
will hopefully inspire others to change the lifestyle for the sake of future generations.

Thank you Andrew!

You are welcome to check out the film's website for further information, and of course - watch the film! Awareness is always the base for action and 'Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home' is a great way to increase the awareness on garbage, its environmental and social impacts and what changes we can do in our life style do reduce the amount of garbage we produce.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Parrots and Books

Anyone from San Diego? Award-winning animal welfare journalist and author, Mira Tweti, will be signing her new children's book this Friday at The San Diego Zoo's ZooStore gift shop. Here, There and Everywhere is a colorful invitation for children and parents into the world of Sreeeeeeeet the Lorikeet and other parrots of his kind. Simply put, it's gorgeous.

This is part of the store's Spring Book Fair on March 1417, which also includes a 15% discount on all books in the shop, including this one.

will be there as well! As part of a collaboration with Tweti's Parrot Press, Eco-Libris stickers will be offered at the event. So when you buy a signed copy, you can buy a sticker and put it right there on your new book.

When: Friday, March 13, 3-5 p.m.
Where: San Diego Zoo's ZooStore gift shop.