Student film profiles Wisconsin recycling pioneer

January 19, 2010

A nine-minute film documentary produced by Nelson Institute graduate student Liese Dart will be shown in Baraboo, Wisconsin, in March as part of the Making it Home film festival. The documentary, "Plastics One Through Seven," profiles Milly Zantow, an 86-year-old North Freedom, Wisconsin, woman who devised the numbering system that permitted plastics recycling in the United States. Zantow came up with the idea after she and a friend launched a pioneering local recycling business in Sauk City, Wisconsin, three decades ago. At the time, plastics were not be recycled in this country because there were many types, with different properties, and recycling processors had no easy way to tell them apart. In a Wisconsin State Journal article about Zantow on Sunday, Nelson Institute interim director Gregg Mitman called her "one of Wisconsin's unsung environmental heroes." "Her story is a testimony to the leadership role Wisconsin has played at the national level in environmental activism, policy and legislation," said Mitman, who co-taught the environmental filmmaking course last semester in which Dart made the documentary. A shorter version of Dart's film screened at the Nelson Institute's Tales from Planet Earth community and film festival in Madison in November. Baraboo's festival will feature a selection of films from the Madison event.