Angela Sun an award-winning journalist, sports broadcaster, television host and documentary filmmaker spoke at Western Washington University on Tuesday, May 12, after a viewing of her movie “Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”
The documentary about plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean has won 11 awards. The movie has inspired celebrities such as Al Gore, Bette Midler and Forest Whitaker to get activated and want to make changes.
Michael Hatcher, Geoffrey Mosher, Josh McMinn and Luigi Di Nardo are students from a sustainability marketing class who organized the event. The group members watched the documentary for a class project and became interested in the topic of pollution in the Pacific Ocean.
They chose to contact the movie director, Sun, to see if she would be able to come speak about this topic.
“We’re just trying to spread the awareness of pollution in the Pacific Ocean,” Di Nardo said.
The group members contacted the Office of Sustainability on campus. The Office of Sustainability is a program where students can apply for funds to do sustainability projects on campus. Students can access grants anywhere from $500 to $5,000.
The Green Energy Fee Grant Program Coordinator Nate White was able to assist the students in getting them a grant so Sun could travel to Western.
“I helped them set up securing the film rights and contacting the director,” White said. “The grant [for this event] was a little over a $1000.”
Sun was able to visit Western’s campus for the movie screening and lead a discussion afterward about plastic pollution.
She brought ideas and helpful tips about how students can make a difference.
“Putting the fourth R first, which is refuse before you reduce, reuse and recycle,” Sun said. “Refuse that single use disposable plastic, the straws, the lids, the to-go ware, and start bringing your own.”
Sun challenged all the students to a two-week pledge to say no to single-use plastics. For those students who chose to accept the challenge and post about it on social media she handed out a prize of a reusable bamboo straw.
“Media is so influential to evoke change and has the ability to evoke change and influence,” Sun said.
Dennis Henderson a student from Whatcom Community College attended the event. He chose to take the two-week challenge because he felt a personal liability.
“I wouldn’t have believed how much plastic debris affected natural life if it wouldn’t have been filmed,” Henderson said.
Henderson said the main thing he learned is that plastic never goes away and that less of it gets recycled than he thought prior to the event.
“There are plenty of environmental issues that need to be addressed and I think events like this do good job doing so,” Henderson said.