“The Clean Bin Project” Shows It’s Possible to Live With Minimum Waste

The Clean Bin Project — Projecting Change Film Festival

Note: A version of this post originally appeared in my blog.

“The Clean Bin Project” is a locally-produced documentary that examines what it’s like to live in our modern world with minimum waste. The link between consumerism and environmental issues is something that we all probably intuitively understand; Project explores this issue by showing the struggles of two ordinary Vancouver residents in their quest to not produce waste.

Jen and Grant are a couple living in East Van (my hood!) who got inspired one day to tackle the issue of waste head on. They planned on doing this by a.) not buying anything unnecessary (that includes clothes, by the way), and b.) reducing their waste by recycling, composting, etc. Just to make things fun, they’ve turned their project into a competition to see who will have less waste. The movie “The Clean Bin Project” documents their successes and struggles with this for a full year.

Last Sunday, I caught this movie at SFU Woodwards where it was shown as part of the Projecting Change Film Festival. It was the only movie I saw, and it turned out to be a good decision.

As a student in the SFU School of Communication, I’ve seen many documentaries. Professors like to use them to get us thinking critically about many social and communication issues. Usually documentaries leave a bad taste in my mouth because of their pessimism and what I perceive as unbalanced reporting. I’m happy to say though that “The Clean Bin Project” isn’t your typical documentary.

For one, Project is a really funny movie. Jen and Grant take their journey with great sense of humour and light-heartedness. Jen and Grant are both charming individuals; their sincerity radiates on the screen. They manage to be passionate about their cause without imposing their beliefs on everyone else.

Secondly, Project walks the fine line between educating and lecturing quite well. From my experience, most documentaries lean towards the latter, but Project manages to avoid that pitfall. Documentaries tend to lecture because they often only show the perspectives of activists; Project, I think, achieved a better balance because instead of interviewing activists, they went to artist, government officials dealing with the issue, and regular folks.

If I had to point out one weakness of the documentary, I might say that it’s the lack of specific details on exactly what Jen and Grant did to achieve their goal. However, upon mulling this over, I decided that enough details were probably provided. The movie doesn’t go into too much details on what the couple used instead of toilet papers, for instance, but these kinds of questions can be answered through face-to-face discussions or through the project’s blog. The movie provides a good starting point where meaningful discussions about consumerism and waste can happen.

On a side note, the movie’s cinematography is outstanding. I might be a bit biased because I’m from Vancouver, but I must say that British Columbia looks stunning in this movie. I really do live in the most beautiful province in the world!

The Clean Bin Project was named Best Canadian Documentary at the Projecting Change Film Festival, and although I haven’t seen the other movies, I’m not really surprised. The movie moved me, and judging from the audience’s reaction at the Sunday screening, I think I wasn’t alone at that. I definitely recommend this movie, and I’m already planning on purchasing it as soon as it’s available on iTunes so I can show it to friends and family.

Previously, Project has already received media attention from the likes of the Vancouver Sun and Georgia Straight. Interested about learning more? Check out the official blog, or follow on Facebook and Twitter. You can also watch the trailer below.

By Kelvin Claveria

Photo credit: Projecting Change Film Festival