Bag It!

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Bag It! Movie Poster Image
Enlightening docu about saving the planet from plastics.
  • NR
  • 2011
  • 79 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Advocates for individual participation in efforts to have a positive impact on our planet. Promotes thoughtful awareness of environmental effects of a consumer-driven culture, specifically focusing on single-use plastic materials and toxic chemicals currently found in everyday products. Offers concrete examples of ways to dramatically lessen impact of consumerism and to reduce exposure to chemicals.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The central character is portrayed as an American Everyman; he learns along with the audience. Jeb is intelligent, eager for information, and actively pursues a positive approach to living with integrity and concern for our planet. Each individual interviewed is an example of a committed, responsible advocate for the environment and the animal world. The stated villains of the piece - lobbyists and corporations with an economic stake in the survival of single-use plastics and toxins (i.e. the American Chemistry Council) -- refuse to comment or be interviewed.


Some disturbing images of dead birds that have been poisoned by ingesting plastic particles found in the ocean, as well as a scene which depicts an animal autopsy (necropsy) in a laboratory.


A married couple embraces when they reveal that they are expecting a baby. The film includes some moments from the baby's hospital birth, with careful angles and sounds, but clearly showing the delivery with a joyous outcome.


Includes scientific mention of "penis," "sperm count." One epithet: "sonsabitches."


Dozens of consumer goods are identified on supermarket shelves and in the background of scenes; all are shown to be using undesirable packaging materials.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Two characters share a brief toast and taste an adult beverage.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bag It! is an entertaining and informative documentary about the mountains of trash humans create and dispose of in the U.S. today. A few scenes showing the disastrous effects of the pollution of our oceans on its wildlife (specifically, the albatross) may be unsettling for younger or more sensitive kids. In describing effecs of some toxins, the words "penis" and "sperm" are used. A baby is delivered on-camera, carefully filmed in a hospital setting. The pain associated with childbirth is kept to a minimum and there is no nudity.

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What's the story?

Jeb Berrier is our guide through supermarkets, landfills, oceans, and our homes in BAG IT!, an easily understood, entertaining film about what we use, what we buy, what we eat, and finally, what we throw away. Jeb's personal story (he and his wife are expecting their first child) and his decision to be part of the solution to imminent environmental disasters frame the movie. In it are simple facts, figures, visual images, and countless interviews with scientists and activists on the frontlines of desperately needed change from today's consumer-directed culture. Director Suzan Beraza and Jeb travel the world to see how other societies and people are making these changes, then come back to the U.S. The clever graphics, wonderful images of wildlife and nature, and a breezy, generally comic tone are interrupted only for some pretty scary stats about the pollution of our oceans and the animals who live there. The final section, which informs about the impact of dangerous toxins -- specifically bisphenol A (BPA) and pnthalates -- on children, is nothing less than a powerful invitation for our getting involved, too.

Is it any good?

Upbeat, creative, bent on keeping us engaged while informing us, Bag It! is a wonderful introduction to environmental awareness and responsibility. With its humorous tone, its clear voices with passionate points-of-view, and with easy-to-follow suggestions to help solve the problems of our consumer-oriented world, kids of every age will find ways in which they can make a difference.

This is the kind of title that's great to watch as a family. Parents and kids can get inspired by the ideas put forth and talk about how they can make positive changes as a family.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can discuss what steps each person in your household can take to help lessen your family's ecological footprint.

  • Do an experiment of your own where you try to reduce the amount of trash you produce by being thoughtful about what you buy and consume.

  • Talk about the humor and tone of Bag It! Why do you think the filmmakers made the choices they did in delivering their information? Were they successful?

Movie details

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Themes & Topics

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