Lights, Camera, Plastic: A Glance into Hollywood’s Impact on Our Plastic Future

In a 2021 report titled “Flip The Script: Can Hollywood Help Us Imagine a Future Without Plastic?”, the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center explored the portrayal of single-use plastics in film, television, and media. The report analysed 32 popular TV shows and discovered that single-use plastics were pervasive, averaging 28 items per episode.
Through our Ditch the Flick campaign, we took these project one step further and focused on a specific plastic item: cigarette butts. This project analysed trends in smoking rates, disposal methods and smoker behaviour throughout the top 2 grossing films from each year between 1970 and 2019.
By delving into data from blockbuster movies spanning five decades, the “Ditch the Flick” campaign sought to draw attention to how smoking and plastic pollution have been intertwined over the years. Cigarette butts, though seemingly small, are often overlooked contributors to plastic pollution. Through this project, the goal was to raise awareness of their environmental impact and advocate for responsible disposal methods.
A big thank you to Dr Jennifer Lavers and Dr Annett Finger for this assistance in designing the movie audit design.

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