Racing to Zero

Christopher Beaver’s Racing to Zero is an hourlong promo for San Francisco’s waste-recycling efforts, specifically regarding Mayor Ed Lee’s pledge that the city will achieve “zero waste” by 2020. That Racing is preaching to the local choir is clear from an opening statistic about greenhouse gases that cites something called the “Institute for Local Self-Reliance” rather than the EPA or NASA. What follows is the declaration, in a Papyrus-esque font, that, “In nature, nothing is created, nothing is lost, everything changes” — an unthreatening way of stating the law of conservation of energy without bringing scary science into it. Crunchiness aside, Racing to Zero is an interesting look at one aspect of the city’s infrastructure with plenty of pleasant eyenoise in the footage of the trash-processing plants, even if it’s sometimes marred by unneeded on-screen text. (San Franciscans burn a lot of casseroles, apparently.) While it’s already outdated in some ways — the featured e-waste recycling company GreenCitizen no longer has a presence within San Francisco city limits — for all its talk about sustainability and art, Racing to Zero manages to go an hour without mentioning Burning Man once, so it least it doesn’t waste any footage on the Playa. (PSA: Brace yourself for those awful “Zero Waste Dress Up” Goodwill billboards to start going up as Halloween approaches.)

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