Film Reflection: Blue Vinyl
The Blue Vinyl film by Judith Helfand and Daniel B. Gold shows the environmental effects of vinyl chloride on households, factory workers, and the entire community. Also, it shows the relentless efforts of industry leaders to conceal the dangers of this chemical through legal procedures and by taking advantage of the communities ignorance. This film starts with a family inspecting the materials they had used in building the house only to note that the wood used in doing the construction had become damaged and had started to rot. The family then decides to refurbish the house. Later on, the narrator conducts a thorough analysis of the environmental and social effects of the vinyl chloride used in her community.
The narrator’s investigation reveals a lot of significant and neglected issues in the community. To begin with, it shows that most individuals in the community are unaware of the dangers of the plastic making plant in the neighborhood. Although most individuals are aware that smoke and dark fumes can have carcinogenic agents, they are unaware that clear looking gas can also contain high levels of vinyl. An investigation of the plastic making industry reveals that they have been aware of the dangers of vinyl chloride exposure to humans. Nonetheless, they have remained negligent and continued to apply only the minimal threshold of the requirements on plastic. As a result, most of the employees have been victims of avoidable and preventable deaths.
On the overall, I have learned that the environmental effects of hazardous products such as plastics are mostly due to negligence and greed. To begin with, the dangers of vinyl chloride, especially among factory workers were mostly due to exposure to these chemicals despite the manufacturers knowing of its dangers. Therefore, the failure of ensuring workers are safe is an indication of greed by plastic companies since they would have incurred more costs on preventive mechanisms. In addition, I have also learned that sustainable use of environmentally available materials such as trees, and recycling old wood can reduce the need for using hazardous materials such as plastics.
The utilitarian theory of morality is used to justify the exposure of individuals to vinyl chloride and its use in the manufacture of household items. In utilitarian theory, an action is morally okay if its benefits outweigh its negative attributes. Despite the dangers of vinyl chloride to the environment and workers, the profits that the plastic industry generates are used to justify its use. Similarly, the workers agree to work in such hazardous environment because the incomes they earn outweigh their current health costs.
Helfand, J., & Gold D. (2008). Blue Vinyl. Available from