Sunday, April 11, 2010


A look at dirt with The Conscious Shopper

Have you ever thought about the importance of dirt? The makers of the new film Dirt! The Movie have given it plenty of thought: What is dirt? Why is it important? Who cares about it? And what can you do about it? Check out their trailer for a little preview.

The folks at Docurama Films sent me a free copy of Dirt! The Movie to preview in honor of their DVD release (a few days ago on April 6th). I enjoy documentaries and being a green blogger, I figured I'd enjoy this one. But I had no idea I'd be so moved by a film about dirt.

I'm constantly reminded that our destruction of the environment is not just a problem for the planet. It's a human problem. The first half of this film shows how our treatment of the earth - mountaintop removal, clearcut rainforests, concrete jungles, industrial agriculture - is harmful to people, from soil erosion to water pollution to droughts and starvation.

As I watched this, I fell into one of those deep, despairing moments where I feel completely overwhelmed with the thought that we've destroyed our earth and there's nothing we can do about it and why am I even trying. And then luckily the film took a turn toward the positive. One of the people featured in the film, Wangari Maathai (
2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Green Belt Movement), tells a beautiful story of a little hummingbird:
We're constantly being bombarded by problems that we face, and sometimes we can get completely overwhelmed. The story of the hummingbird is about this huge forest being consumed by a fire. All the animals in the forest come out, and they are transfixed as they watch the forest burning. They feel very overwhelmed, very powerless...except this little hummingbird that says, "I'm going to do something about the fire."

So it flies to the nearest stream, takes a drop of water, and puts it on the fire. And goes up and down, up and down, up and down as fast as it can. In the meantime, all the other animals, much bigger animals like the elephant with a big trunk, could bring much more water, they are standing there helpless, and they are saying to the hummingbird, "What do you think you can do? You are too little. This fire is too big. Your wings are too little. And your beak so small, you can only bring a small drop of water at a time."

But as they continued to discourage it, it turns to them without wasting any time, and tells them, "I'm doing the best I can."
The film goes on to describe a number of people and organizations that are working to save and restore dirt, and I felt so inspired that I'm linking to some of them here so you can explore as you have time.
It makes me cry when I think about how terribly we've harmed the earth and all of the repercussions that will follow. But I get even more choked up when I learn about all of the amazing people who are working to make it better. I am so grateful for all the hummingbirds out there, for all of us that are doing the best we can.

Dirt is an amazing movie, and I hope you'll take a look. The film will air on PBS' Independent Lens on April 20th, so check your local listings. You can also find it on Netflix, or buy it on DVD by visiting their site.


Lisa said...

Thanks for posting this great review! I'm always looking for good environmental videos to watch. I'm very anxious to watch this one.

Juliana Crespo said...

This video sounds amazing! I look forward to checking it out! I've always felt that people who have a serious aversion to dirt don't really get it ... this is our earth, our soil, our matter. Dirt is nothing to shy away from, not in the way that most of our society does with its obsessive need to bleach and sanitize everything (including food!).

Sara said...

Thank you for the review! It's going right to the top of my Netflix queue.

Levinson-Axelrod said...

Thank you for introducing this trailer. This Dirt movement is a step in the right direction.


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