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Robin Frohardt Sends A Powerful Message About Plastic Waste and Climate Change Through “Plastic Bag Store: The Film”

by Melody Heald

Film director and artist Robin Frohardt sends a powerful message through her short film, Plastic Bag Store: The Film. Using colorful objects and puppetry, Frohardt’s film depicts how wasteful humans are, and how we’re destroying our planet.

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The curtains open, introducing us to a market called “The Plastic Bag Store.”  Colorful, delectable items are on full display: cupcakes, cereal, fruit, vegetables. At first glance, these items appear to be real. But upon closer inspection, we see that the items are made of plastic, with names like “Yucky Shards” and “Caps N’ Such.” The employees stop what they’re doing to move the shelves. They take a seat and the story begins.

We are taken back to ancient times where a man named Thaddeus invents a device called “knowledge water.” The water is bought in a vase and tossed in the outskirts of town. Realizing the effects the disposable vases are having on the environment, he paints a warning on a vase, where it is found in a museum 2,000 years later.

Helen is a custodian who is constantly picking up trash at the museum where she works. Through her body language, we see how appalled she is with how much plastic is wasted. This leads her to write a note to the future about how wasteful people are, apologizing on the present’s behalf. From there, she seals the note in a bottle and wraps it in a plastic bag.

Centuries later, we’re blasted into the future, where the planet is a desolate wasteland from the “robot wars.” The note in the bag is discovered by a man while fishing near the Earth’s equator, which is now made of ice. He comes across the plastic bag, which intrigues him. Opening it, he discovers that the note inside is from the past. The film ends with the man searching for more “messages” from the past, fishing out a bunch of more plastic. 

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Long before this film, Frohard had created “The Plastic Bag Store” itself, which was originally staged in the Carolina Performing Arts’ CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio in Chapel Hill, NC. The store resembles an actual grocery store, stocked with goods—but every item is made out of single-use plastic bags. “The idea came to me many years ago, just watching someone bag and double bag my groceries which then went in another bag,” she told The Guardian during an interview, “I realised how absurd it was. And so I decided that I would make a grocery store that was even more absurd.”

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Overall, Plastic Bag Store: The Film beautifully paints the global consequences of humanity’s carelessness about plastic waste. The puppets and colorful plastic will mesmerize both children and adults alike, while teaching them about climate change. The film was released on Earth Day, and is available to stream on demand from now until May 2 on the website of the Center of the Art of Performance UCLA.

All pictures via Robin Frohardt’s Website

More from BUST 

This Artist’s “Plastic Bag Store” Is A Trashy Treasure

Mexico City Implements Ban On Single-Use Plastic — But People Who Menstruate Face The Consequences

“Same Love” Songbird Mary Lambert Shares Tips For Making Art During Traumatic Times On BUST’s “Poptarts” Podcast

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