Staff Pick: Plastico

Beach communities around the world suffer from an abundance of plastic that tragically ends up in the oceans at an alarming rate



James Q Martin | 2016 | 9 min.


This month’s Staff Pick comes from Theresa Huck, On Tour Sales Associate for the Wild and Scenic Film Festival.

The film Plastico came to my attention recently. Being one of the most popular films On Tour in 2017, playing at over 25 Wild & Scenic events since the flagship festival in January, it comes to my attention almost weekly! Single use plastics are undoubtedly a hot topic issue and a subject I’m deeply passionate about. My relationship with single use plastic changed forever In 2008 after attending my very first Wild & Scenic Film Festival. The first film I saw, Bag It, launched a personal mission to forego the need for single use plastics in my life. Plastico, reminds me of that initial spark that changed my life for the better. Since that first film festival, almost a decade ago, I have become a full on environmental junkie.

Plastico tells the story of Mike and Laney Giovale as they went to Los Llanos, Mexico, to learn to surf.  They saw beaches full of plastic bottles and bags. The local government had no recycling program and the local population had been burning it, along with other trash.  They had no idea how harmful burning plastic can be.  In 2003 a firefighter died due to plastic vapors from a home fire he was fighting.  Many plastics, when burned, emit hydrogen cyanide and other toxic vapors.

The film begins with Erwing Rodriguez Ibarra, on his bicycle, towing a couple of lawn sized garbage bags full of plastic bottles. As he progresses, the load of trash bags gets bigger and bigger until he can hardly pull it anymore.  I found this imagery to be very powerful.  To me, it signified that the problem is getting bigger.  At some point, it will be too much for our society to continue.

There is so much beauty in the film as it is the story of Laney, Mike and Erwing working together to form the Azulita Project.  As they scraped pennies together to buy a plastic compressor, they formed a solution to the problem.  They created the first recycling program in this small town in Mexico.  The community watched as they cleaned up the village.  As they started to see their town without mountains of plastic everywhere, community members began to participate. Plastico is a sweet film.  While it does tell the story of the problem of plastic, it is more about the beauty of people coming together to solve a problem.  To see humans respecting each other and the land around them is incredibly uplifting.  It gives us all hope that we can solve these problems together. I hope you will join the ranks of people, around the world, who are working together to end plastic pollution.  There are many organizations that are fighting the good fight!

“Plastic pollution is one of the primary environmental threats facing our planet.  At least 8 million metric tons of plastic material (equivalent to one garbage truck every minute) leak into our ocean each year.” (from

Some interesting facts:

  • 5 Million plastic bottles are used every hour in North America (per Recycle Across America)
  • At this rate the ocean will contain more plastic than fish by 2050 (per World Economic Forum 2016)
  • 71% of the planet is ocean
  • Oceans are the “lungs” of our planet (a common phrase amongst scientists)


Want to experience Plastico for yourself? Active SYRCL members can check it out from the Wild and Scenic Film Library! (Reach out to Alena Loomis to see if your membership is current, [email protected] or 530.265.5961 x 220). Find this film On Tour near you!