New film from Bowen Islanders goes behind the scenes of waste-free living

'Harmony' is premiering at the Bowen Island Film Festival Feb. 14.

It may seem like a pie in the sky idea to some: living a waste-free lifestyle while raising two young children, but for Harmony Shire it’s a calling. 

Harmony’s young family hasn’t had a garbage can in seven years. They buy food in bulk and store it in glass containers. The little plastic that does come into their lives is painstakingly sorted and recycled. To-go cups aren’t a thing. 

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Those wondering how the dedicated islanders manage such a feat needn’t wonder much longer. 

Harmony, a local massage therapist, and her family are the subject of Bowen filmmakers Stanka and Chris Obens’ latest short film. Harmony is premiering at the Bowen Island Film Festival Feb. 14.

“It’s really the cool stories…as she leads her life with two small children and a husband [Aaron Davison], and she’s still trying to do as much as she possibly, humanly can,” says Stanka. 

Harmony Shire in nature
Harmony Shire - Chris Oben

“She’s quite magnetic,” says Chris. “People love to ask her things and she’s always got great answers.”

The Obens focus the 24-minute film on the food and packaging aspect of sustainable living––a topic the filmmakers know a thing or two about.

Islanders may also know Stanka from the Lime and Moon Pie Company on the pier, a business she ran for nearly a decade before returning to filmmaking. (Stanka and Chris met while working in the film industry before the Lime and Moon days.) Her pie shops were all organic and zero-waste, a trend that’s just breaching mainstream culture.   

“We were ahead of our game I think,” laughs Stanka. 

But Harmony takes the zero-waste game to another level. 

“Every time you go to the store, everything is in plastic,” says Stanka

“Every loaf of bread, every piece of meat, every bag of vegetables,” says Chris. 

So how does Harmony stick to her zero-waste commitment?

“It’s hard. It’s very hard,” says Stanka. “But what she’s explaining is you do one step at a time. Don’t get overwhelmed when you go to the store.

“Remove one package at a time.” 

Chris Oben filming out the roof of the car.
Chris Oben filming out the roof of the car. - Chris Oben

They also follow Harmony to zero waste stores where shoppers bring their own packaging. 

“Crackers, spaghetti, cheese, olive oil, butter, eggs, whatever you want,” says Stanka. 

“Fifty taps of different liquids,” adds Chris.

Harmony and Aaron are building a different norm for their one-year-old and three-year-old children.

But  having a calling doesn’t necessarily assuage the environmental stresses of current day.

“She even says how difficult it is to see a clear path for her children,” says Stanka, “when all this is happening around her.”

But there’s another important message in the movie. 

“We don’t have to be perfect. We just have to do things imperfectly,” says Stanka.

“A lot of us,” adds Chris.

“A lot of us. And everything changes.”  

Stanka and Chris are nearly done the film but are raising funds on Indiegogo for the soundtrack and sound mixing (see here). 

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