Green Up Film Festival

 

I sometimes find it hard to explain to the people around me how what we eat and how we live are affecting the environment. Once, in French class, we were discussing climate change and there were several statements in the textbook on how certain actions lead to certain consequences. We took turns to speak about whether we agree or disagree with the statements. Then, one of my classmates said very softly to himself, “Hmm…how does that affect the environment?” At that moment, I wanted to jump up and share everything I knew with him! Unfortunately, my French teacher was already talking about the next exercise…

That’s why I think film is a fantastic way to share knowledge! Let someone else do the talking. The audience is engaged and everything is laid out in a systematic manner, with visuals and explanations along the way. The Green Up Film Festival is offering free documentaries about energy, economy, water, food/agriculture, biodiversity and waste/pollution. These documentaries will be available for free streaming on their website from 16 to 30 April 2014. There are currently 15 documentary trailers on their website, and we get to vote which ones we want to see. The 10 documentaries with the highest votes will then be made available for free. How brilliant is that?!

There are some documentaries which I’ve been meaning to watch, but don’t have access to and this is a great opportunity for me to finally watch them. These are some that caught my eye:

Nos enfants nous accuseront
For the first time ever, our children are growing up less healthy than we are. As the rate of cancer, infertility and other illnesses linked to environmental factors climbs ever upward each year, we must ask ourselves: why is this happening? Our Children will accuse us begins with a visit to a small village in France, where the town’s mayor has decided to make the school lunch menu organic and locally grown. It then talks to a wide variety of people with differing perspectives to find common ground – children, parents, teachers, health care workers, farmers, elected officials, scientists, researchers and the victims of illnesses themselves.
Revealed in these moving and often surprising conversations are the abuses of the food industry, the competing interests of agribusiness and public health, the challenges and rewards of safe food production, and the practical solutions that we can all take part in. [Synopsis taken from the festival website]

Bag It!
Americans use 60,000 plastic bags every five minutes, disposable bags that they throw away without much thought. But where is “away?” Where do the bags and other plastics end up, and at what cost to the environment, marine life and human health?

When Jeb finds out he and his partner are expecting a child, his plastic odyssey becomes a truly personal one. How can they protect their baby from plastic’s pervasive health effects? Jeb looks beyond plastic bags and discovers that virtually everything in modern society — from baby bottles, to sports equipment, to dental sealants, to personal care products — is made with plastic or contains potentially harmful chemical additives used in the plastic-making process. Two of the most common of these additives, “endocrine disruptors” Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, show links to cancer, diabetes, autism, attention deficit disorder, obesity, infertility, and even smaller penis size. As adults, we make all kinds of choices of convenience: single-serve bottles, small units of food, household items, and bath and beauty products. These products are both made with and come packaged in plastic.

As a consequence of our modern day culture, we have become addicted to plastics, and they have quietly infiltrated every aspect of our lives. Even our children (especially during in utero development) have unwittingly and alarmingly become our modern day lab rats.

Bag It makes it clear that it is time for a paradigm shift. Join Jeb as he meets with people who fought the American Chemistry Council lobby that spent more than a million dollars fighting the Seattle bag fee; as he interviews a man sailing the Pacific in a boat made of plastic to raise awareness about our ocean’s health; as he gets tested to determine the levels of chemicals in his own body; and as he welcomes his baby into the world, a world he hopes we can leave with a little less plastic and in a little better shape for the next generation. [Synopsis taken from the festival website]

Global Waste
One billion people around the globe are chronically malnourished, yet one-third of the planet’s food production is going to waste. Every year, the United States wastes twice the amount of food needed to feed its population. In Western countries, farmers, agro-industrialists, supermarkets and consumers throw out enough food to feed the world’s undernourished inhabitants seven times over.

Forests are being destroyed. The production of food that will never be eaten is responsible for nearly one-tenth of the greenhouse gases emitted in the West. While wealthy countries negligently waste food, developing countries are watching their crops spoil because farmers don’t have the tools to treat, conserve or get them to market.

But public awareness of the problem is growing. Surprisingly simple solutions could resolve what has become one of the most pressing environmental and social dilemmas facing the world today.

We look at fruit, vegetables, bread, meats, fish, grains and ready-made meals, travelling from Europe to Costa Rica, with stops in Pakistan, the United States and Japan. Viewers are introduced to the key players in this infernal food system: producers, industrialists, distributors and consumers. We see distressing examples of waste, but also inspiring innovations and solutions for making the most of the food we produce.

Our modern lifestyle has created a global food crisis and we have now look at things that can be done to resolve it. [Synopsis taken from the festival website]

**Most of the films are in French, but some are available with English subtitles and Bag It! and The Well are in English. So hurry, vote so we can watch and share these documentaries for free!

Advertisements

Why do farmers farm?

“Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming? And always the answer is: “Love. They must do it for love.” Farmers farm for the love of farming. They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants. They love to live in the presence of animals. They love to work outdoors. They love the weather, maybe even when it is making them miserable. They love to live where they work and to work where they live. If the scale of their farming is small enough, they like to work in the company of their children and with the help of their children. They love the measure of independence that farm life can still provide. I have an idea that a lot of farmers have gone to a lot of trouble merely to be self-employed to live at least a part of their lives without a boss.”

Wendell Berry
American novelist

A greener Singapore

So something exciting is happening soon – the MND Budget!

I’ve been slow in catching up with the latest news, but after following the Ministry of National Development’s Facebook page for the last two days, I have to say I’m so pleased with what they are proposing. One of the initiatives that caught my eye is community garden. According to MND, “HDB will set aside space at all new multi-storey carparks rooftops and equip them with planter beds and irrigation systems to facilitate community farming.” What a lovely idea! Even though deforestation and destruction of natural habitats are still happening in order to make way for more commercial and residential buildings, this initiative would allow us to give back to nature. Hopefully individuals living in the community will be allowed to participate in farming. Community-supported agriculture has been a welcomed model of agriculture and food distribution and many countries like the UK, France and Australia, and I hope that Singapore will slowly catch on!

And then…there’s NONG, a project which is part of the Edible Gardens’s “Grow Your Own Food” movement. They’re already ahead of the Budget as they have a rooftop garden at the carpark of People’s Park Complex!

I’ve yet to pay them a visit, but hopefully I can make my way down soon. I’d love to be a part of this brilliant project!

It’s really lovely to hear about so many exciting things that are going on in Singapore this year. Coming home two years ago after spending several years travelling, living and experiencing sustainable lifestyles abroad really dampened my mood as I struggled to find an equivalence here. But reading up on these initiatives has given me a new ray of hope. Let’s keep up the good work!