ISTC Sustainability Film Festival Includes Terra Blight

As part of 2014 Earth Week celebrations on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) is hosting a Sustainability Film Festival. With support from the UI Office of Public Engagement, three documentaries will be screened at the Spurlock Museum‘s Knight Auditorium on the evenings of April 22, 23, and 24th from 6-7:30 PM: Living Downstream, Terra Blight, and Waste=Food, respectively. Admission is FREE and open to the public on a first come, first served basis; doors open at 5:30 PM. After each film, a Q&A/discussion will be held with ISTC staff and other relevant campus and community experts. Panelists will answer questions about their organizations/programs, the issues dealt with in that evening’s film, and provide guidance for the audience on what they can do to prevent pollution, avoid exposure to and release of environmental toxins, and contribute to a cleaner environment in their own lives.

Terra Blight, the film being screened on the evening of April 23, is a 55-minute documentary produced by Jellyfish Smack Productions exploring America’s consumption of computers and the hazardous waste we create in pursuit of the latest technology. According to the film makers, “The film  traces the life cycle of computers from creation to disposal and juxtaposes the disparate worlds that have computers as their center. From a 13-year-old Ghanaian who smashes obsolete monitors to salvage copper to a 3,000-person video game party in Texas, Terra Blight examines the unseen realities of one of the most ubiquitous toxic wastes on our planet. This documentary examines the intricacies of American consumerism through the story of the computer.  It exposes some of the harms of its existence, but it also celebrates the positive changes it has brought to us. By the film’s end, the audience will never look at their computer the same way again.”  See the video player below for a trailer of the film (note if you receive these posts via email subscription, the embedded media may not appear in your email message; you may view the trailer at

Following the film, the audience will have a chance to ask questions and participate in discussion with the following guests:

  • William Bullock, Professor of Industrial Design, School of Art + Design, Affiliated Faculty Scientist ISTC, Director, Product Innovation Research Lab. William has taught classes on e-waste issues and sustainable product design, and is the founder of the Sustainable Electronics Initiative’s International Sustainable Electronics Competition.
  • Susan Monte, Champaign County Recycling Coordinator, Champaign County Regional Planning Commission.As the recycling coordinator for the County, Susan oversees countywide collection events and promotes electronics recycling programs available through local businesses. She is also conducting research, with funding from ISTC, characterizing the current state of electronics recycling opportunities in each of Illinois’s 102 counties.
  • Courtney Rushforth, Recycling Coordinator, City of Urbana. Courtney has been actively involved in the Champaign County residential electronics collection events, and has presented data related to the County’s electronics collection efforts at past Sustainable Electronics Initiative meetings.
  • Dave Walters, Manager, Waste Reduction and Compliance Section, IL Environmental Protection Agency Bureau of Land. Dave oversees the State’s electronics recycling program, and is an expert on the development and future of the State’s electronics-related legislation.

Joy Scrogum, Co-coordinator of  SEI and Emerging Technologies Resource Specialist for ISTC, will also be present as host of the screenings and moderator for post-film discussions. In collaboration with the Technology Entrepreneur Center, Joy is currently an instructor for ENG/TE 498, Sustainable Technology: Environmental and Social Impacts of Innovations. This class introduces impacts associated with technology at each stage of the product life cycle (design, manufacture, consumption, and disposal/recovery). Electronic products are used as a case study and provide the framework for discussion of complex legal, economic, social, and environmental considerations.

DVDs of the three documentaries featured in the festival will be made available  at the Prairie Research Institute Library. The DVDs will have online activities and resource lists associated with them to enhance the educational impact of the films. For more details and information on the other films in the series, see the ISTC Blog, or contact Joy Scrogum.

To see a full list of all activities taking place during Earth Week, please visit the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (ISEE) web site.


Author: Joy Scrogum

Joy is an Emerging Technologies Resource Specialist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She has worked on developing & maintaining online resources for the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable since 2001. She also currently coordinates the Sustainable Electronics Initiative & provides support for zero waste projects, as well as various aspects of ISTC outreach & communications. Key past projects include coordinating the International Sustainable Electronics Competition, developing & teaching ENG 498 "Sustainable Technology: Environmental & Social Impacts of Innovations," & Greening Schools, which focused on making K-12 facilities & curricula more sustainable.