This short film by American director Ramin Bahrani (Goodbye Solo) traces the epic, existential journey of a plastic bag (voiced by Werner Herzog) searching for its lost maker, the woman who took it home from the store and eventually discarded it. Along the way, it encounters strange creatures, experiences love in the sky, grieves the loss of its beloved maker, and tries to grasp its purpose in the world.
When we’re all gone, plastic bags will live on. These petroleum totes don’t really degrade — it takes between 500 and a thousand years for one of these suckers to break down. But they degrade the environment. Like so much else, we throw them away as easily as we make them. But of course they don’t actually _go_ away: they just become inadvertent parts of our urban landscapes. Also they strangle tortoises, choke birds, and poison water in ways that can deform our hormones and lead to cancer.
For proof, just take a look at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Texas-sized gyre featured in the film where plastic goes to die.
Except as Bahrani’s movie poignantly points out, it doesn’t really die. That’s the thing. And if we can’t let a poor plastic bag die – especially one that sounds like Werner Herzog – can we at least learn how to grant it a new life, how to reincarnate a plastic bag into other stuff we can use — and not just a pair of boots or a hobo dress.