Documentaries that will change your perspective on waste

Whether you’re looking for a great documentary to watch tonight when you get home or if you’re trying to find a meaningful film to show to your club or organization, we have a great list to help you find the perfect movie! Each category of documentaries corresponds with issues that Californians Against Waste has worked on legislation, find out more about our efforts by following the links. 

Plastic Bags

Legislation: SB 270 (Padilla, De Leon, & Lara) California Plastic Bag Ban

  • Bag It: A great documentary that covers the human health impacts, ocean health impacts, and immense waste that comes from the utilization of single use disposable plastic, particularly plastic bags. 
  • The Majestic Plastic Bag: Our personal favorite, a short 4 minute mockumentary of the life of a plastic bag. A great short film to share with friends to begin the conversation about the consequences of plastic bags.  




Food Waste

Legislation: AB 2725 (Chiu) Expiration Date Standardization (inactive bill)

  • Just Eat It: An informative and shocking story about a couple who, for 6 months, lives off of food that would have otherwise been thrown away. Find out some reasons why we are throwing out so much edible food.
  • DIVE!: A look into the lives of people who live off of food from dumpsters, and it isn’t at all what you would imagine it to be. This documentary begs the question, why are grocery stores and restaurants throwing out so much good food?




E- Waste

Legislation: AB 1419 (Eggman) E-Waste: CRT Panel Glass Recycling (active bill)

  • E-Wasteland: Much of our electronic waste is still sent out of the country where the outcomes are unknown. Luckily in California our laws require electronics to at least be broken down before being shipped, in order to deter rudimentary and unsafe methods that are used to take apart electronics some countries they are exported to. In this film find out how much of the worlds e-waste is disposed of.


Plastic Waste/ Plastic Recycling


  • Plastic Paradise: Learn more about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which accumulates plastic waste from three countries in a remote location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. 
  • Plasticized: A film that brings the viewer on board a transatlantic expedition to find evidence of the human footprint even in the most remote corners of the earth. See the extent that plastic pollution in our oceans is affecting wildlife and the environment. 



Reducing Waste Going to Landfills


  • Waste Land: Follow the story of artist, Vik Muniz, who travels to Brazil to the world’s largest trash dump in order to shed light on a group of catadores—those who pick recyclables out of waste. Muniz creates images out of trash and hopes to change lives in the process.



Oil Waste

Legislation: SB 778 (Allen) Motor Oil Drain Interval (active bill)

  • Fuel: The history of the U.S. auto and petroleum industries, the exploration of biofuel alternatives, and interviews with policy makers, educators, and celebrity activists, including Woody Harrelson, Sheryl Crow, Neil Young, and Willie Nelson.