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Racing To Zero
In Pursuit of Zero Waste

Follows San Francisco's innovative efforts towards achieving zero waste, thereby dramatically reducing the city's carbon footprint.

A printer-friendly version of this page 55 minutes
SDH Captioned>>

Directed by Christopher Beaver
Produced by Diana Fuller
Editor: Maureen Gosling
Original Music: Dan Wool
Cinematography: Christopher Beaver
Sound Design & Mix: Jim McKee
A Trash 24 Production

"Congratulations to San Francisco...and hats off to this film team for showing us how a dream can become a practical reality." Dr. Paul Connett, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Chemistry, St. Lawrence University
[Note: Community screenings of RACING TO ZERO can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]

Only one third of the waste in the United States is recycled or composted. Why? Industry, through its practice of planned obsolescence, plays a major role; our lives are almost totally dependent on unrecyclable petroleum products. In order to reach zero waste, we need to change our relationship to garbage and view the things we discard as resources, rather than waste.

RACING TO ZERO examines our society's garbage practices in terms of consumption, preparation, use and production, and discovers some amazing solutions in San Francisco, which is successfully taking the necessary steps to reach zero waste. Cities all over the United States have instituted zero-waste policies of their own, and it is through these mandates that we are challenged to think differently about not only how we handle our garbage, but what it can become.

Christopher Beaver & Diana Fuller also made Once Was Water, another solutions-oriented film, about Las Vegas's efforts to build a sustainable water system.

Grade Level: 7 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2015     Copyright Date: 2014
DVD ISBN: 1-94154-528-9

"Informative and inspiring. It reminds us that nothing in nature is waste, only food for another cycle. By highlighting the culture of zero waste developed in San Francisco we can see that another world is possible. We just need the determination and vision to make a zero waste world a reality. As a professor in environmental policy and sustainability, this film demonstrates the innovation and public policy that is possible when we tackle complex environmental problems like garbage."
Ana Baptista, Assistant Professor of Professional Practice, Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management, The New School

"In this inspiring and path-breaking film, Diana Fuller and Christopher Beaver not only address the most profound issues raised by the waste we produce, they also tell us with great accuracy what we can do about it. How we can best re-use and re-purpose our waste without being imprisoned by it. It opens up important new conversations if we are to become a more sustainable society."
Dr. Helene Cherrier, Associate Professor of Economics, Finance and Marketing, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University

"Racing to Zero is a remarkable story of the economy, technology, and multidisciplinary strategies needed to address the pressing need to reuse and recycle waste. An insider's peek into the recycling, compositing, re-purposing industry will provoke discussions at a variety of scales in the fields of environmental studies, resource management, architecture, engineering, biology, and chemistry. The film challenges us to think about the life cycle of all raw materials and products."
Dr. Alison G. Kwok, AIA, LEED-AP, Professor of Architecture, University of Oregon, Co-author, The Green Studio Handbook

"Viewers will get a sense of where the discards we throw into garbage, recycling, and compost bins go, and the environmental implications of choosing to discard into those bins...Education is vital to effective recycling and composting, and this film gives a clear and accessible set of instructions to facilitate successful resource reclamation. Viewers also get a sense of the hard work often anonymous people do to reclaim value from the discards. Racing to Zero conveys the crucial message that discarded material is not worthless trash but rather potentially valuable resources."
Carl Zimring, Associate Professor of Social Science and Cultural Studies, Pratt Institute, Author, Cash for Your Trash

"Encouraging and inspiring...I recommend this film for city planners and other officials thinking about implementing sustainability goals, for entrepreneurs wanting ideas of how to turn recycling into a career path, and activists who want to activate new ideas and energy for their organizations...Quite helpful for business, economy, or political science students."
Cherice Bock, Whole Terrain Journal

"This well-done film encapsulates of many of the issues of importance in modern-day waste management...It presents potential solutions according to the philosophy of 'zero waste,' a hopeful movement that seeks to reuse-recover-recycle all objects and materials in use in modern day American society, especially as they are being implemented in San Francisco."
David Tonjes, Assistant Professor of Technology and Society, Stony Brook University

"Racing to Zero reframes the conversation--not around what waste is--but what waste can be--a resource to us all. As a guy who has made a beautiful home out of an old rusty dumpster I've seen how these sort of transformational conversations in education can be the impetus towards a new awakening--one that can impact the largest challenge we face as humans. Zero waste is a journey as much as a destination and students would enjoy watching this film only second to taking a dive into a dumpster, litter-ally."
Dr. Jeff Wilson, Dean and Environmental Studies Professor, Professor Dumpster of The Dumpster Project, Huston-Tillotson University

"What you will learn from this video is very valuable: that waste is an increasingly complex material, that there is a tremendous amount of science and human effort needed for reusing and recycling it, and that--despite such difficulties--it is possible to make great strides in getting it out of our air, soil, water, and bodies. Optimistic but not naïve."
Dr. Zsuzsa Gille, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Author, From the Cult of Waste to the Trash Heap of History: The Politics of Waste in Socialist and Post Socialist Hungary

"Racing to Zero is an inspirational overview of San Francisco's progress towards closed-loop solid waste management. The video details a comprehensive approach that goes beyond municipal solid waste and food waste by demonstrating implementation of e-wastes, plastics, and clothing reprocessing. San Francisco's program is an excellent example for other cities."
Dr. Thomas DiStefano, Chair and Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Bucknell University

"Both instructive and inspirational, Racing to Zero offers an honest and hopeful portrayal of one city's dream of rebirth and a possible end to America's waste nightmare. Including interviews with scholars, waste workers, small businesses, politicians and farmers, this film will be an invaluable resource to educators and environmental reformers alike."
Joshua Reno, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, SUNY- Binghamton University, Co-editor, Economies of Recycling: The Global Transformation of Materials, Values and Social Relations

"This video is excellent...Congratulations to San Francisco for daring to be idealistic and hats off to this film team for showing us how a dream can become a practical reality."
Dr. Paul Connett, Author, The Zero Waste Solution: Untrashing the Planet One Community at a Time, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Chemistry, St. Lawrence University

"Inspiring...eye-opening...The film moves along at a brisk pace, introducing a wide range of public and private individuals - including policy makers, entrepreneurs, residents, waste management workers, and researchers. Each plays a part, and the film clearly demonstrates how each contributes to the city's goal of zero waste."
Jen Wong, Educational Media Reviews Online

"Rousing film exhorts us to join in...Even turning rubbish into art, these innovators zero in on new possibilities for greater sustainability."
Carol Harada, Mill Valley Film Festival

"An informative and optimistic film...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."
Jack David Eller, Anthropology Review Database

Select your institution type

DVDs include public performance rights.

DVD Features
Study Guide
Flier from the Institute for Local Self Reliance on how a zero waste approach helps to protect the climate
SDH Captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Scene Selection

Host a community screening
The film's website
SF Environment
Matter of Trust
Waste Busters

Awards and Festivals
Best Climate Change & Sustainable Technologies Film, CMS Vatavan Environment & WIldlife Film Festival, India
Mill Valley Film Festival
Cleveland International Film Festival
Mendocino Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
Columbus International Film + Video Festival
Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival
San Francisco Green Film Festival
United Nations Association Film Festival
Global Peace Film Festival
FICMA Barcelona International Environmental Film Festival
Arcadia Film Festival (France)

Business Practices
Climate Change/Global Warming
Environmental Ethics
Global Issues
Green Building
Local Economies
Materials Sciences
Natural Resources
Public Administration

Social Psychology
Urban Studies
Urban and Regional Planning
Waste Management

Related Titles

Once Was Water
Las Vegas provides an example to the world of how any city can and must create its own sustainable water solutions.

The Suzuki Diaries: Future City
David and Sarika Suzuki explore urban innovations leading toward sustainability.

Is "sustainable cities" an oxymoron or can they be made to work?

Addicted to Plastic
Reveals the history and worldwide scope of plastics pollution, investigates its toxicity and explores solutions.

Energy-efficient skyscrapers, controlling waste, and innovative automobile design and recycling.

The Human Scale
Influential Danish architect Jan Gehl argues that we can build cities in a way which takes human needs for inclusion and intimacy into account.

The Next Industrial Revolution
Architect Bill McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart bring together ecology and human design.

Plastic Paradise
Angela Sun reveals the effects of our rabid plastic consumption as she investigates The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The Greening of Southie
The story of Boston's first LEED-certified residential green building, and the people who made it possible.

Designing A Great Neighborhood
A model co-housing project, where future residents participate in the design of their own neighborhood.

Build Green
David Suzuki reports on a wide range of green buildings, from large community developments to mini-homes.

... more Reviews

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