Plastic problem and youthful solutions featured in award-winning documentary by Orcas teen

Walking on a California beach, Dylan D'Haeze was worried and scared about the amount of plastic polluting the ocean. Deciding to do more than worry, the 13-year-old Orcas Island filmmaker put together a documentary, Plastic is Forever. The award-winning 20-minute film covers the history of plastic, its myriad uses and the big problem with it - it doesn't go away.

The documentary is beautifully filmed. Dylan directed the film and shot the parts he did not appear in. While making his remarks, he stands in some of the most beautiful spots on Orcas Island and speaks directly into the camera. For the look of the film, Dylan says he was inspired by Cowspiracy.  Staff from the Whale and Dolphin Conservancy, the EPA, Surfrider Foundation, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, and other organizations  appear in Dylan's documentary and  focus on an off-camera listener.

One of the problems illustrated in Plastic is Forever is the widespread presence of nurdles, the plastic resin pellets used to make a variety of plastic products, in the sand on beaches. In an interview, Dylan said experts say the nurdles are found in the first foot of sand on island beaches. The ingestion of nurdles, by animals on the lower part of the food web, is a major problem. Filled up with nurdles rather than nutritious food, their health declines. Pesticides cling to the plastic, making things worse as the problem spreads up the food chain as those on the lower parts of the food web are eaten by other animals including people.  

On April 12, 2017 Plastic is Forever was shown to 400 Orcas Island students in two screenings at Orcas Center. After the film a speaker from the Whale Museum talked about plastics effect on the health of whales.  An Exchange staff member shared information on how to change habits and adopt a zero waste/sustainable lifestyle, and marine scientist Russel Barsch spoke about the ecosytem.

One of the highlights of the young filmmaker's documentary, is the powerful message of how young people can help solve the problem.

Dylan says, "Plastic plays an important role in our lives, but as you've seen if we're careless it can cause some real problems. You can be part of the solution it's not that hard to do."

The film shows work being done by youth activists including reducing the amount of plastic used in schools, cleaning up beaches and rivers, and forming clubs to educate people.   

After the presentations on Orcas Island, students did some beach cleanup and saw first hand the ubiquitous nurdles and other pieces of plastic. 

Dylan and his mother, Dawn,  who produced the film, have a busy month ahead. They'll be making two presentation on Earth Day at the International Wildlife Film Festival. The duo will also make presentations similar to the one in Eastsound, to students in Brooklyn, New York and Long Beach, California. They'll be attending many film festivals this year including the Sunscreen Film Festival in Florida and  the Kids First! Film Festival in San Francisco.

Dylan has won awards at the 2017 Arizona International Film Festival, 2017 NFFTY Young Filmmakers, 2017 International Ocean Film Festival, 2017 Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival, and the 2017 International Wildlife Film Festival

Plastic is Forever trailer on Youtube

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