Need to brush up on your sustainability issues and gather some good fodder for cocktail hour? The Sustainable Film Series at Loaded Joe's in Avon has you covered, screening films on every topic worth talking about from water to fracking and plastic bags to the health of salmon and whether or not buying organic is worth it.
And what's great about watching thought-provoking films in public is at the end you can turn to your neighbor and say, "So, what did you think?"
Organized by the good peeps at the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability, Slow Food Vail Valley and Loaded Joes, the Sustainable Film Series happens the first Tuesday of every month from 6 to 8 p.m. beginning this week with "Tapped."
After extreme drought this summer, water should be on the minds of everyone who drinks it (That's everyone, isn't it?) "Tapped" is a documentary that takes a behind-the-scenes look into the world of bottled water, an industry, in global terms, that's an $800 billion industry that makes its money buying and selling back a natural resource that many, including this writer, consider a basic human right.
The film explores the many ecological problems associated with the bottled water business, from the plastic production at oil refineries, to the leaching of chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA), an estrogen-mimicking chemical, into our bodies and environment, to how plastic bottles wind up in our oceans causing pollution. According to the film, it takes approximately 500 million gallons of oil to create the plastic bottles and to transport the bottled water all around the world. The number is growing every year.
Following the path of bottled water, the movie paints a portrait of the lives and communities affected by the industry, including the politicians, lobbyists and activists who are caught at the intersection of big business and the public's right to water.
On Nov. 6, the Sustainable Film Series moves its way to the topic of food with "Fresh," a film that celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America whom are re-inventing our food system.
And for those who consider salmon as one of their basic food groups shouldn't miss the Dec. 4 film "Red Gold."
"The documentary 'Red Gold' beautifully tells the story of Bristol Bay, a one-of-a-kind sustainable fishery and ecosystem that has been self sustaining for thousands of years. But now the bay and the world's largest Sockeye salmon run is under attack by the proposed Pebble Mine, a non-renewable hard rock mining operation that will change it forever," said Kaleb Walker, owner of Kaleb's Catch, a local who fishes for a living in Alaska.
He'll sell his salmon this winter in Edwards on Sundays, starting Dec. 2, at the new Winter Farmers Market at Colorado Mountain College. Walker will attend the film screening to talk about his personal connection to Bristol Bay and why he thinks the Pebble Mine is a bad idea.
Just as Walker and "Red Gold" reveal the truth about Pebble Mine, Director/Producer Kip Pastor goes on a personal journey in "In Organic We Trust" to uncover the truths of organic food. The film - which asks the question "Is organic really better, or just a marketing scam?" - screens Feb. 5 at Loaded Joes.
Change the fate of the world
Next up is "Bag It" on March 5, a documentary that started with a story on plastic bags and evolved into a full-blown investigation into plastics and their effect on our waterways, oceans, and even our bodies.
"The thing that surprised me most in 'Bag It' was how quickly Bisphenol A can build up in your body by using so called normal products in our every day lives, like using standard sunblock, eating soup from a can, using an aerosol, microwaving in microwave-safe dishes. And then how quickly changing these habits can lower the blood levels of BPA to almost non-existent in a very short time," town of Vail's Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Kristen Bertuglia said.
BPA is an industrial chemical that has been present in many hard plastic bottles and metal-based food and beverage cans since the 1960s. Trace BPA exposure has been shown to disrupt the endocrine system and trigger a wide variety of disorders, including chromosomal and reproductive system abnormalities, impaired brain and neurological functions, cancer, cardiovascular system damage, adult-onset diabetes, early puberty, obesity and resistance to chemotherapy, according to the Environmental Working Group. As more and more towns are banning plastic bags, like Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale and San Francisco, Bertuglia is currently assessing public opinion about banning plastic bags in Vail.
The Sustainable Film Series ends strong with documentaries particularly relevant to Colorado, including "Last Call at the Oasis," about the global water crisis, "The Greenhorns," about the needs of America's young farmers, and "Gasland," an expose on fracking.
"I have watched most of the documentaries in our line-up, and they are not only intriguing, but they deal with issues we all face right here in our own communities," said Shawn Bruckman, sustainability consultant at Ground Up and Promotional Marketing Manager at Loaded Joes. "These films inspire us to take action by offering recommendations for things we can all do to change the fate of the world, which would otherwise be left in the hands of greedy private interests."
So after you turn to your neighbor and ask, "So, what did you think?" follow up by saying, "Now what can we do?"
Freelance writer Cassie Pence is passionate about living a more sustainable lifestyle, She owns Organic Housekeepers, a green cleaning company, and is actively involved in the EagleVail Community Garden, the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability and Slow Food Vail Valley. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.