Like any great documentary, Racing to Zero has some unexpected and compelling characters. Of course there’s the requisite statistics and shots of plastic bags floating through the air. What I didn’t expect, however, was the sheer joy of folks on the front lines who have turned seemingly simple waste collection into a passionate vocation.
Even if you’re already dutifully sorting and consistently composting, you’ll walk away from the film with a new appreciation for how recycling is only one part of solving our planet-killing problem. Nothing should be truly “wasted”, according to the filmmakers. Instead, “waste” should be viewed as a temporary state in a complete cycle of transformation and re-use. The film demonstrates this beautifully with showing how a Chinatown restaurant’s wilted vegetables breathe new life into compost for Sonoma’s vegetables. They also show how e-waste is being transformed into unimaginable new materials and how one recycler (Green Citizen) is planning to go even deeper by transforming how products are designed.