Producer Diana Fuller takes R20 to Paris!

cinema_2Our experience as an invitee to FIFE, the French International Festival of the Environment, was a delightful one. Everything was arranged beautifully from the moment of arrival. The screenings were held in a charming little theater near the Place Clichy. Rebecca de Pas and Clement Pignon arranged our first Media conference the day after arrival, held in the bar/restaurant above the theaters. The questions were excellent and showed serious interest in the subject matter of the film.

The first screening on Saturday was to a sold out house and very well received—the Q + As went on for over an hour! Luckily drinks and snacks were always available for the filmmakers in the lobby, much needed after the long, intense presentations. The lobby was a great place to network with other international filmmakers and enthusiasts.cinema_1

Unfortunately, on the last day of the festival, I was laid up in bed with a knee spasm. Kindly, the FiFE team was able to arrange the Q+A for me via Skype, and I was able to answer questions and discuss the film from my residence near Place Clichy.
We opened the film with photographs depicting the river of garbage in and around Beirut, where the garbage had not been picked up for 8 months creating a major health issue for the residents of the city. We shared this atrocity with filmgoers to demonstrate the reality of pending disease and horror facing the people of Beirut, and the potential atrocities the world may face in the future if we don’t apply alternative solutions to dealing with “garbage”. This is a real crisis of Mad Max proportions, not just a fictional bad dream of the future, and the story is ongoing. For more information and news about this ongoing crisis, search “Beirut Garbage Crisis” in Google.

We would like acknowledge Myriam Gast Loup who organized the festival of 90 some films without a hitch with vital help from Emmanuel Otayek, who directed the coordination and programming for features outside of competition.  We would also like to thank Emilia Rodière and Juliette Naiditch for their help and direction during the Festival, and particularly Jean Francois.

Also Myriam kindly let us know that Racing To Zero was FIFE’s choice to be sent to WE LOVE GREEN, a French environmental festival focusing on music and art, held this June 4th and 5th in Paris, France.

Christopher Beaver Brings Racing to Zero to Russia

Racing to Zero and the film’s director, Christopher Beaver, completed a three-city tour of the Russian Federation from February 24 through March 2: Moscow, Saratov, and St Petersburg. Here’s his report:

1. St Basil's Moscow

Yes, Racing to Zero really did go to Russia. Here’s a view of St Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, Moscow on Christopher’s first night in Russia.

Among many successful screenings, an important meeting took place in Moscow with Alexey Kiselev, zero waste specialist for Greenpeace Russia. Based on early announcements about Racing to Zero in Russia, Alexey said he had already received requests for screenings across the Federation from as far away as Murmansk. We are currently making arrangements with Bullfrog films to make the film available at little or no cost throughout Russia.

5. Greenpeace Russia

Alexey Kiselev, zero waste specialist with Greenpeace Russia in the office kitchen next to written instructions on how to recycle.


Anastasia Laukkanen, Director of the EcoCup Environmental Film Festival in Moscow supervised the beautiful Cyrillic subtitled version of the film. Laukkanen also pursued contacts at the American Embassy in Moscow who arranged expenses and support for my visit.

4. Reception Eco-Cup


Christopher and Anastasia Laukkanen, executive director of the EcoCup Environmental Film Festival, at an informal gathering of filmmakers and activists. On the right side of the picture, Brad Allgood, director of Landfill Harmonic can be glimpsed in the background.

The film was met everywhere with enthusiasm and appreciation. Even though Russian environmental activists have worked for years toward a zero waste policy, they characterized the Russian zero waste movement as in its beginning stages. I was told for example that glass and newspapers could be recycled in Moscow at only one location on one afternoon per month.

The second city I visited was Saratov south of Moscow on the Volga River. The Volga is an immense body of water, reminiscent in history, culture, and commerce of our Mississippi River.

My host in Saratov was Sergey Ulyanov a Russian entrepreneur with a deep concern for the environment as a reflection of Russian culture and best business practices. Sergey drove me to see an amazing private enterprise facility in Saratov that has begun recycling. Although there is little separation of materials in Saratov, the company perseveres by collecting waste otherwise destined for landfill, then separates and recycles this material.

7. Sergey and CB

Christopher and Sergey standing on the frozen Volga River. Beyond the line of trees behind us and some distance away is Saratov’s first recycling plant.

From the visit I carried away many thoughts but two stand out in terms of the zero waste effort.

First, the grassroots of Russia is becoming increasingly active in terms of pursuing zero waste. However, the movement is far from new. In an atmosphere that is not always encouraging.

Second, Racing to Zero, can serve as an important model for some of the forms a zero waste effort can take. We have the opportunity to have a true nationwide impact in the Russian Federation. Our film can help in a major, major manner. We have the ability to set more zero wheels in motion.

And actually there would be a third impression. The US and Russia have been engaged in various forms of a Cold War during my entire lifetime. As I commented when I screened the film at the American embassy in St Petersburg: first there was an arms race and wasn’t that a lot of fun—and then there was a race to the moon— and now hopefully we could join forces in a race to achieve zero waste.

I experienced first-hand that a global environmental movement keeps the lines of person-to-person contact alive and builds bridges between our two nations rather than walls.

3. CB Introduced







Christopher is introduced to the opening night audience at EcoCup.

Edward Humes, author of “Garbology” releases new book!

From Edward Humes’ newsletter:

Take a Ride With Me
Announcing Door to Door


I used to brag about having the shortest commute in town: downstairs for coffee, back up to my office to write. How wrong I was. My daily commute is really more like 3 million miles—without leaving the house. And so is yours.

From field to broker to port to factory to store to me, my morning java travels enough to circle the globe—and that’s just the beans. Add milk, water, coffeemaker, electricity and package and my cup of joe has gone ’round the world multiple times. My smartphone is even more traveled and my car’s 30,000 parts have enough miles to reach the moon. Fantastic distances and a cast of thousands are embedded in every trip we take and every click we make.

​I spent the past year peeking under the hood of this have-it-now, same-day-delivery economy. I wanted to know how our lattes, pizzas and sodas move so seamlessly door to door—even as we live with soul-killing traffic, a death every 15 minutes and a trip to the ER every 13 seconds.

Come take this ride with me in Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation. My new books comes out April 12 from Harper Books. Learn more at Edward

Trash Crisis in Lebanon “Solved” by Creation of New Landfills

The possibility of a Mad Max scenario inspired us while making Racing to Zero. We thought of the future!!! The future is now and the reality; we must share with you…

“After drowning in piles of trash for more than eight months, Lebanon is implementing a landfill plan rejected by civil movements amid concerns of the environmental, health and economic damages ensuing from this crisis.”
— Author Esperance Ghanem | March 21, 2016

More about this evolving story can be found by searching for “Lebanon Trash Crisis”
Lebanon Garbage 1
Lebanon Garbage 2
Lebanon Garbage 3

Latest Film Review

Reviewed by Jack David Eller
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Colorado and Author

An informative and optimistic film demonstrates the commitment of San Francisco to reduce its city waste destined for landfills to zero by aggressive programs of recycling and composting, promoting a civil culture of waste consciousness and exploiting the economic value of recycled and composted materials.

Modern industrial societies produce a lot of marvelous things, but what they produce perhaps more than anything else is waste. Waste represents not only the unused portion of our output (like leftover food) but also the unusable (like packaging) and used up (like old worn out clothing and electronics), not to mention all of the side effects of production such as mine tailings and waste water. All of this waste has to go somewhere, and, since the earth is a closed system, it all ends up on the planet with us, much of it tossed thoughtlessly into landfills.

In this informative and hopeful but almost overwhelming film, we learn that one city, San Francisco, has set a goal to have ‘zero waste,’ that is, to recycle every bit of refuse and send nothing to the landfill. With a target date of 2020, the city has already reduced landfill by 70%. Our guide through the film is Robert Haley, city ‘zero waste manager,’ who explains that all household waste, and even construction material, is due for and capable of recycling.

From a demolition site, generating tons of broken concrete and metal, Haley takes us to the capitol building, pointing out how the substances there can be recycled. The project entails a virtual army, beginning with the trash men servicing the city’s buildings. The city’s plan features three streams or processes—recycling, composting, and trash (landfill), but success depends on the participation of everyone. First we enter a recycling facility (for more on recycling centers and the idea of ‘streaming,’ see Pawel Wojtasik, Toby Lee, and Ernst Karel’s Single Stream, reviewed elsewhere in ARD). There, people and machines separate the various materials and pull out the wrong stuff. Metal, paper, plastic, and glass are all destined for recycling. Another recycling center shows people bringing and selling metal and glass (for recycling is a business that must make economic sense). Glass is a particularly good candidate for reuse, as it can be recycled over and over again.

The city has also has three devices at its disposal (pardon the pun) to encourage conscious disposal of waste-, namely, financial incentives, laws, and culture. To enforce the latter two, auditors keep the public informed about their waste practices but literally inspecting trash bins and writing tickets and warnings. As for culture, on Earth Day volunteers called ‘wastebusters’ handle trash and teach people which stream their items belong in.

Another issue is composting, both household and restaurant food trash. The material is sent to a composting collection site and then to composting centers outside the city. The compost eventually goes to farms and vineyards, where growers depend on the compost, which renews the soil and holds down food prices.

At the opposite end of the natural-material spectrum is ‘e-waste’ or the garbage produced from throwing away electronic devices. E-waste is a global crisis, since items are shipped all around the world like China and Africa, where they are often handled in irresponsible ways that release noxious chemicals into the environment. (For more, see Isaac Brown’s Terra Blight, reviewed elsewhere in ARD). At a service that collects and recycles electronics, it is explained happily that some items can be repaired, and the rest is disassembled for reuse or recycling. Another problematic product of modernity is plastic, especially because there are hundreds of kinds of plastics that cannot be recycled together. In a plastics recycling facility, items are melted down, extruded in strands like spaghetti, and then chopped into pellets, such as would come out of a plastic factory.

The film also mentions a number of other kinds of items that we often disregard when it comes to recycling. One is textiles, and to illustrate the issue the film visits a Goodwill headquarters, where donations are sorted. Much of what they receive is clothing, and resellable clothes are separated from unsellable ones, the latter either shipped overseas or recycled into thread and eventually another garment. Then there is the final 20% that is still being landfilled, including plastic bags, styrofoam, toxic substances. For example, dangerous chemicals are used, and thrown away, by nail salons and dry cleaners, and San Francisco has specialists who deal with these sites. Finally, there are household chemicals, medicines, and biohazardous materials that are generated in hospitals and veterinary clinics. San Francisco aims to capture all of this too and keep it out of landfills (and therefore the soil and water), if only by incineration.

Finally, one way to produce less waste in the first place is conservation, including energy conservation and renewable energy. As we see children learning about and practicing sustainable lifestyles, and San Francisco Airport’s recycled-material art displays, the film gives us these words to think about: “To actually put more back into the world than we are taking—ultimately that’s what zero waste is all about.”  Racing to Zero shows that it takes a tremendous effort of manpower, technology, and political will but that reducing the waste output of modern society is possible…maybe even all the way down to zero.

We have won the 8th CMS VATAVARAN Environment and Wildlife Film Festival and Forum, International Section: Climate Change and Sustainable Technologies Award!

In October, Racing to Zero was awarded the Climate Change and Sustainable Technologies Award from the 8th CMS VATAVARAN Film Festival, in New Delhi!

“For providing an effective overview of systematic waste management practices adopted by the city of San Francisco, in its initiatives to achieve zero waste goal, which could inspire similar action elsewhere.”