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Why is Sam Neill eating a plastic bag?

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Images of Sam Neill chowing down on a plastic bag are doing the rounds on social media.

They’re from a new Greenpeace film made with Neill, the Jurassic Park and Hunt for the Wilderpeople star.

View the full two minute video here:

The New Zealand actor who’s about to appear in a new film Peter Rabbit, made the video to highlight the crisis we have with single-use plastic bags getting into the Pacific Ocean.

Kiwis go through 1.6 billion plastic bags per year, on average each bag gets used for 12 minutes before it is thrown out.

In this tongue-in-cheek Greenpeace video Neill praises the "humble plastic bag" for its ability to last at sea, "making an active contribution to marine life."

"The plastic bag is a master of disguise," he says in the clip, "turtles mistake them for jellyfish and eat them. How good is that?"

Co-starring in the satirical Greenpeace film with Sam Neill is Auckland marine biologist Dan Godoy.

His research revealed that one in three dead turtles that wash up on New Zealand shores have eaten plastic.

Godoy describes plastic bags mockingly as "the peak of human innovation".

"They catch on the wind and pass easily through stormwater drains and into the sea."

Godoy and Neill are lending their support to a Greenpeace petition which is aiming to "ban the bag".

Sam Neill is urging all Kiwis to get on board with the Greenpeace campaign. "As a New Zealander I’m acutely aware that our beautiful Pacific Ocean is under threat from many sides. Plastics is something we can do something about immediately. "

After the campaign started in the middle of last year two supermarket chains, Countdown and New World agreed to voluntarily withdraw single use shopping bags.

"That takes about 700 million plastic bags a year out of the equation," says Greenpeace campaigner Elena Di Palma.

The Greenpeace petition has more than 61,000 signatures and is still growing.

It’s due to be presented to Eugenie Sage, Minister of Conservation and Associate Minister for the Environment outside Parliament at 12.30pm on Tuesday February 27th - an event organised by Greenpeace and the Jane Goodall Institute New Zealand.

The petition will be accompanied by an open letter signed by key organisations which outlines the case for a regulatory ban on single-use plastic bags.

The aim is to ban single-use plastic bags which Di Palma says "will protect marine life and create a level playing field for all retailers"

"We can’t stop there," she says. "We really need to get single use plastic out of our lives. Plastic bottles, straws, plastic cutlery, all have a terrible impact on our environment and are deadly to the creatures we share the seas with."

To make the point, at the end of the film Neill stuffs an entire plastic bag into his mouth, almost gagging in the process. Please do not try this at home.


-Scientists estimate that around 8 million tonnes of plastic waste is ending up in the oceans each year.New Zealanders use 1.6 billion plastic bags per year, yet on average each bag is only used for just 12 minutes before it is thrown out and ends up as waste.

-Successful public pressure has led to Countdown and New World committing to stop using single-use plastic bags, reducing the number of bags used in New Zealand by approximately 700 million.

-New Zealand’s turtles are mistaking plastic bags floating in our oceans for jellyfish. A staggering 1 in 3 turtles found dead on New Zealand’s beaches have swallowed plastic.

-A whopping 87% of New Zealanders agree that we have too much plastics in our lives. Our petition has now gathered over 61,000 signatures calling for a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags, showing widespread support from the public for legislation on this issue.

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