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Zero Time To Waste - A Family's Journey Toward Sustainability

There’s no question that we need to significantly shift if we hope to prevent the impending climate crisis—but it can be overwhelming knowing where to start. Rather than being fatigued or even paralyzed by the daunting task of tackling climate change as a whole, a family of five is forging a hopeful path forward by making living sustainably more accessible.

Zero Time to Waste follows one family’s journey of living zero-waste in the middle of San Diego—a social movement they hope to see grow as they inspire small changes in their local community. By growing their own food, not producing any waste, choosing alternative transportation, and saving $18,000 annually in the process—everyday tasks are more intentional, and they’re happier for it. This compelling portrait is a hopeful reimagining of what it looks like to be conscious citizens in the midst of daunting statistics and the peak of consumer culture. Combining social theory, environmental research, and a heartwarming glimpse into one family’s path —this film encapsulates the idea of being the change you wish to see as there really is no time to waste.

  • Matt Helbig
  • Sara Perrson
    Creative Producer
  • Nico Mengin
    Director of Photography
  • Andrew Barrack
    Lead Editor
  • Fredrika Syren
    Key Cast
  • James Harker-Syren
    Key Cast
  • Per Espen Stoknes
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
    Short Documentary
  • Runtime:
    24 minutes 13 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    December 28, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    35,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital 4096 x 2160
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • San Diego International Film Festival
    San Diego
    United States
    October 15, 2020
    World Premiere
Director Biography - Matt Helbig

Matthew Helbig is an award-winning director who has worked with Twilio, DropBox, Quora, movement watches and more. He creates high-concept and visually innovative projects where he is involved from start to finish. Formally trained in film and media, Helbig began his filmmaking career following his service with the United States Army as an Infantry Officer. He would work as an editor in the commercial space, before moving behind the camera where he has won a gold Telly in branded content, beating submissions from the likes of Google and AT&T. Beyond filmmaking Helbig has a passion for humanitarian- and environmental issues.

He is also sometimes caught running around sets shooting stills.

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Director Statement

We live in an age of bad news. Fear, uncertainty and doubt are the stock-in-trade in competing for attention these days. The problem is, when we end up only discussing the problems without presenting solutions, people check out. When it comes to climate change, this is especially problematic because the changes we need to make as a society and a species have to begin with us.

As filmmakers, the stories we choose to tell matter. Stories about catastrophe and doom are not only obvious and overwrought in today’s day and age, they’re corrosive and unproductive. All around us are stories of ordinary hope and common progress. Let’s elevate those voices. Let’s exemplify those who are becoming the change that’s required of us in these difficult times.

It’s these challenging times that led me to direct Zero Time to Waste, a short documentary film that follows the life of an urban family living a zero waste lifestyle. I feel their commitment to the common good is a lasting example of how we all can create a better future going forward.

As a father of two girls who will inherit this planet from our generation, I want them to know that there are adults who are clear-eyed and hopeful for that. I am excited for the their future because I know that these worries that seem insurmountable are nothing in the face of human ingenuity and willpower, so long as we can all agree the problem has a solution.

That solution begins and ends with us. Political and economic complexities have allowed us to miss the most obvious point; this is a moral issue, first and foremost. Government and industry have great power to change our world for the better, but they will only respond to the will of the people. It’s up to us to become a community. It’s up to us to tell better stories. It’s up to us to leave this place better than we found it.

It’s up to us, and that’s good news.