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One-time Portland activist tells The Story of Plastic in new documentary

A single idea that originated right here in Oregon some ten years ago has been transformed into a documentary.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A single idea that originated right here in Oregon some ten years ago has been transformed into a documentary about the impact of plastic on our environment.

It premiered on the Discovery Channel this Earth Day. 

It's called The Story of Plastic.

"We really wanted to tell a story that showed the whole system of plastic from extraction to disposal and all the people who are affected along the way," said the film's executive produce Stiv Wilson.

It's a story that took Wilson around the globe documenting just how much plastic pollution there is.

"This problem is much greater than we could ever imagine," he said.

 But this global story really started in Portland.

"I got interested in the issue of plastic pollution from surfing on the Oregon coast," explained Wilson. 

That's when he set out on a campaign to ban single-use plastic bags in Portland.

It was from that work to ban plastic bags that the idea for his film was born.

"I was working with then-mayor Sam Adams' office and particularly a woman there named Megan Ponder," Wilson explained.

Wilson and Ponder teamed up. She is one of the producers on the film.

The two Portlanders and their crew traveled around the world documenting what they called a plastic crisis.

"In the Pacific Ocean alone there are more particles of plastic than there are stars in the Milky Way Galaxy," Wilson said.

Wilson couldn't believe what he saw. There were mountains of plastic. Coastal areas overwhelmed by the stuff.

But Wilson said he still has hope.

And he is finding that hope in places like Portland, which he said is leading the way in sustainability with programs like Go Box, a re-usable to-go container system.

 "The amount of pollution and waste that these kind of systems offset is astronomical," he said.

And on this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, he is proud to bring his film, ten years in the making, back home.

"Now we get to bring our work back to Portland and let the great citizenry of Portland enjoy the story of plastic," Wilson said.

The film is streaming right now on Discovery Go.

You can also download it for free for group screenings.

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