On November 2, 2021, a news article was released discussing the impact that the portrayal of single-use plastics in media has on our society. The USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center in Hollywood, CA began analyzing how common these single-use plastics were versus reusable and eco-friendly products in television and film. They ended up coming to the conclusion that plastic pollution was just as prominent on screen as it is in the lives of most US citizens. The ultimate goal of this analysis was to bring attention to and reduce the amount of plastic presented in the media, but to also institute changes that need to be made to progress in this generation.
Most of this research was authorized by the Plastic Pollution Coalition. Through their studies, they were able to make several assumptions about how single-use plastics portrayed in television causes us to subconsciously downplay the importance of reducing our own plastic use. They stated that single-use plastic made an appearance in every episode with an average of 28 items per episode. They also took note that a vast majority of the items were not dispose of on screen, which promotes the “false narrative of ‘magically disappearing trash.’” Dianna Cohen, Co-Founder and CEO of the Plastic Pollution Coalition states that “We are shaped and formed by what we watch. Media has the power to reimagine the world and blaze a trail to a regenerative, reusable, refillable, healthy, thriving plastic-free world for all living beings, if only we commit and act now.” When we were younger our parents would attempt to censor certain content in an effort to prevent us from mimicking any negative actions done on-screen, but to an extent we never really outgrow that as Cohen states. The things we see on television or listen to on the radio can impact our actions in such a discreet manner that we might not even realize it until it’s already happened.
The Plastic Pollution Coalition’s ultimate goal is to form better habits in our everyday lives. They’ve reached out to many people in all aspects of the entertainment industry to express their concerns and get them involved in the movement towards change. While these changes are on-screen, they are made with the intent of altering the actions of people off-screen.
The biggest takeaway from this article is that so many different things can make subtle influences on the way we live our lives through the things we listen to or see on a regular basis. If programs like the Plastic Pollution Coalition are able to push for changes in how often and how much we see single-use plastic in our favorite TV shows, then this could subconsciously change our careless habits of consumption with the intent to discard it immediately. By replacing the single-use plastics on TV with reusable alternatives, this would set a better example for people to follow and could make a big impact overall. Every little step counts towards an earth that is free of plastic pollution and its toxic impact on the environment.
I had never thought about how casuallyl single use plastic is portrayed on television – very interesting!