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Plastic Paradise

Jeremy Dorn | June 3, 2013 | Lifestyle Story City Life

Almost every piece of plastic ever used is still somewhere on this planet. And Angela Sun, who lists Yahoo! Sports Minute and Ninja Warrior as two of her many claims to TV-hosting fame, wants you to know where it all goes. Sun, who calls herself an "accidental environmentalist," has finished her seven-year passion project about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—dubbed "Plastic Paradise"—and is set to show it at the San Francisco Green Film Festival tomorrow.

From her days growing up in the South Bay and spending days surfing and scuba diving around Santa Cruz and Monterey, Sun has always loved the ocean. Now, she's hoping to help save it.

"The ultimate goal is for social change," Sun says. "I want people to think a little bit more about their surroundings. It's hard to get people engaged and excited about something like this without coming off too heavy-handed, but I want to start the discussion."

The mysteries of where our garbage goes is still relatively hazy. According to Sun, the different currents in the world's oceans conjoin in the "doldrums" in the middle, and piles on and around this tiny island somewhere in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean. Sun wants to make the general public aware of what happens to the environment, wildlife, and human beings when the 20 or so tons of plastic that arrive at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch each year is left there. But this documentary isn't your run-of-the-mill production.

Sun acquired government permits to personally travel to Midway Atoll and shoot footage, surrounded by Hawaiian monk seals, jumping dolphins, and other rare and protected species. Yet in a cruel twist of irony, the stunningly wild playground, which Sun describes as one of the most beautiful places she's ever seen, houses years of rejected debris. Plastic from as far as China and the United Kingdom litters the landscape. Seeing this firsthand made it obvious to Sun that the word needed to be spread.

"I think it's civic duty," says Sun. "It just seems like there is no place on earth untouched by our trash. That was really disheartening."

Sun is especially hoping to strike a chord with the young generation, and is touring the documentary through the festival circuit in order to get as much attention to the issue as possible. There is no better place for such a project than San Francisco, close to where Sun was raised and on the forefront of radical environmental policy change.

"California is one of the most progressive states in the country," Sun says. "Through legislation and social awareness, there's just a different kind of people in Northern California."

Though much of the film was produced in Sun's current hometown of Los Angeles, she says she couldn't have made this dream a reality without her upbringing around Cupertino and Saratoga. Now, it's coming to the San Francisco Public Library (Koret Auditorium) for a free showing at 12 p.m. Tuesday.

"What's happening out there, thousands of miles away from where you live, is actually affecting you every single day," says Sun.

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