The Majestic Plastic Bag – A Mockumentary

Educating for change article written on the 19 Apr 2012

And now for something completely different: after rediscovering the joys of the classic nature documentary, Sharon stumbles upon a clever mocumentary perfect for classroom use.

I’m house-sitting at the moment and apart from being entertained by living in someone else’s “stuff”,  I have rediscovered the joys of watching TV.  After months of not watching TV, I am delighting in the stream of hundreds of programs brought to me by a little black box that is even orchestrated by its own remote control! Pay TV: to think I used to scoff at such a thing…

Besides back-to-back episodes of Grand Designs, re-runs of Law and Order SVU and live Rugby League games, I am being transported into the realms of nature documentaries again. The endearing voice of David Attenborough, the seamless movements between short and long lens focus, the soaring musical soundtrack…the place in which I have landed is magical.

So, when I logged into my Facebook account this morning and watched a short mockumentary, based on the stylistic features of a nature documentary, with a Jeremy Irons voiceover, my usually reserved “Like” thumb clicked away.

The Majestic Plastic Bag – A Mockumentary was brilliant.

I also discovered that it has been around for a number of years which was quite heartening: it meant that social media doesn’t just love current viral videos; re-runs are welcome also.

The short film produced by North American not-for-profit environmental watchdog,  Heal the Bay details the reality of California’s plastic bag pollution situation: 19 billion bags are used every year, creating more than 123,000 tons of unnecessary waste, costing taxpayers $25 million in clean-up costs a year.

I decided to feature the film in this blog because I think it would be perfect to show in the classroom for any subject area. The use of storytelling, creativity and lightheartedness to increase awareness of an important issue is something that I’m sure will engage our students. And an endless number of follow-up discussions and creative activities could no doubt be created.

The important issue of the damage that plastic bags do to our environment reminds me of living in Adelaide at the time when light-weight, check-out style plastic bags were banned in 2009. People said that it wouldn’t work and that no-one would change their habits. More than three years later and South Australia remains our only state with a ban on light-weight plastic bags.

Schools are a central hub for their surrounding areas and I often see great articles in the local paper about how schools are positively impacting their communities. I wonder how your school is involved in to raise awareness or change behaviour in your community?

If your school is doing something along these lines, let us know. And perhaps,  if you have a Maths or Art teacher with a particularly endearing voice, who knows? Your school’s end-of-year assembly could include a documentary on your own response to issues that concern your school…