This week Arkive is celebrating the US premiere of the environmental documentary Tomorrow, (Demain le Film). We’ll be featuring a guest blog each day this week, with documentary contributors discussing the global issues featured in Tomorrow.
“Without question, this is absolutely the best and most creative film on the future of humanity and the environment.” – Paul Hawken, leading environmentalist
Who are you?
My name is Robert Reed. I am a spokesman for Recology, San Francisco’s recycling and kerb side composting collection company. I am a writer and an advocate for zero waste, and former journalist. I am very enthusiastic about recycling and particularly about urban compost collection programs.
What is your field of research?
I do a lot of research. Much of my focus centres on urban compost collection programmes. That means collecting food scraps and plant cuttings separately from other trash, turning this organic matter into finished compost, and using it to feed microbial colonies in topsoil to grow cover crops that fix carbon and nitrogen in the soil. I believe this is our best chance to slow down climate change.
Please could you describe your connection with Tomorrow?
The filmmakers contacted me and asked me to tour them through our recycling and compost programs. They decided to feature me as one of the citizens in the film who are engaged in programmes that help achieve environmental/social benefits.
The film Tomorrow is a great achievement because, unlike other documentaries, it focuses almost exclusively on solutions. The world is hungry for positive narratives and this film is central to a new movement to highlight solutions. For these reasons and more I am very enthusiastic about Tomorrow.
Problems facing your field of expertise from a sustainability perspective?
First problem: More than half of the trash in the world is incinerated. Another big portion is buried in landfills. This destroys resources. The U.S. is home to 3,000 active landfills, but less than 300 facilities that are permitted to compost food scraps. So we have in infrastructure problem. Many cities and universities want to replicate San Francisco’s urban compost collection programme but they can’t because we don’t have enough compost facilities.
Second problem: We need collectively to shine a bright light on the compost solution – cities sending food scraps to farms in the form of compost and farms using that compost to grow cover crops. This combination turns farms into carbon sinks. I believe doing so is our best chance to try to slow down climate change. I have very experienced and skilled friends and acquaintances who believe this solution is so effective that if implemented widely it could reverse climate change.
Do you have any suggested solutions to the problems Tomorrow confronts?
I try to live by example. When Trump was elected I made a personal commitment to do an additional 12 days a year of community service. The solutions almost never come from large governments or corporations. They are making money off they current structure and, therefore, resist change. I, and countless others support the approach of local solutions. A city makes a zero waste goal. A nearby city also makes a zero waste goal, and many others do they same. Then they form a union. They link. That is how you build a movement. That is how you achieve positive change that benefits all.
Tomorrow shows many examples of how this can happen, of how we can create a healthier world.
It is not a question of ‘can we do it?’ it’s an ‘I’m-paying-attention, eyes-wide-open’ perspective. If you are open and honest you know this – we have to do right by the planet and society. It is the only choice.
Please describe your personal feelings on the importance of conveying Tomorrow’s message, and what impact you hope for it to have upon its audience?
The larger message of this documentary – that solutions exist, that we can create a healthier world is tremendously important. Please take a friend to see this film.
The people who made this film worked extraordinarily hard. They had a small budget and impossibly tight schedule. On the morning I met them they were exhausted. But when asked to get up and do more they did exactly that. They suffered so we could have the opportunity to watch this film. Watch it!
Thank you, Robert, for speaking to us. We’d like to heed his words and say, go watch it!