Colin Beavan and his family decided to take a twelve month break from their fairly typical middle class New York life, and try to make their environmental impact as low as they could for a year.
They got rid of the TV, turned off the electricity, stopped using escalators and lifts, no cars or trains, no processed or fast food, no meat or fish, no packaging, no waste and ultimately no toilet paper !
The film is funny and honest in discussing many of the conflicting motivations and contradictions – is the family just ‘playing’ at simple living, is it all just clever marketing for his book and film, surely no one will be persuaded by his extreme experiment, isn’t this just about projecting his own guilt onto the audience ?
In the end the real value of the film is that it makes us question our own way of life, and our underlying values. Will having organic milk in our coffee or getting a water butt for the garden really save the world, is are we going to have to make far more radical changes to our lives ? Living our lives the same way as Colin and his family do in this film isn’t really any kind of ‘solution’, but they are trying, and at the end have much more of a personal road map. [Amazon]
The End of Poverty ? - by Philippe Diaz
The Robert Schalkenbach Foundation was set-up in the US in the 1920s to raise awareness and promote actions towards issues of economic justice. In 2007 the Foundation decided to produce a documentary film about the underlying causes of global poverty, and the role played by Western economies.
The film’s producer Philippe Diaz presents the case that in order to maintain our standard of life, the rich world has systematically controlled and limited the development of the world’s poorer countries, with the policies of the World Bank and IMF effectively keeping billions in poverty.
Presenting the lives of the global poor on our screens, along with a series of shocking facts concerning life expectancy, deaths from starvation, the lack of clean water or even basic medical care, makes the film powerful and intensely challenging, especially when contrasting this with the lives of many in the rich world.
The film also argues strongly that unless we change the structures which create poverty, aid, no matter how well meaning, will ultimately be ineffective in lifting the world’s poor out of poverty. [Amazon]
The Vanishing of the Bees - by Holly Mosher
The Vanishing of the Bees by Holly Mosher, describes the phenomena of honey bee colony collapse disorder - the dramatic rise is sudden, unexplained honey bee colony deaths around the planet since around 2006. A vital pollinator, honey bees are crucial for the effective production of a wide range of agricultural crops in many parts of the world.
The film follows two commercial bee keepers Hackenberg and Mendes, as they explore the causes of colony collapse disorder, travelling across the world in their attempt to find answers.
The film explains well that the sudden decline in bee numbers appears to result from a combination of factors and doesn’t claim to have definitive proof, but it especially points a finger at the widespread use of neo-nicitinoid pesticides, and the effects of monoculture styles of agriculture. [Amazon]
Photo by Espensorvick, via Flickr
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