In partnership with SoCal 350’s EcoJustice Radio and Adventures in Waste (with support from the Story of Stuff Project), this series follows the plastic economy pipeline from extraction and creation to the effects on the community at the time of refinement, manufacturing, consumption, and disposal. Guests from all over the world explore the social and environmental injustices of the plastic plague and how we can get to accessible and equitable solutions for all.
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Plastic Plague Episodes:
- EXTRACTION: Fracking and Drilling for Plastic Dreams
- REFINEMENT: Cracking the Plastic Production Boom
- HUMAN HEALTH: The Threats of Plastics
- THROWAWAY SOCIETY: Economics & Inequity of (Plastic) Consumption
- THE BOTTLE SCAM: Land, Water, and Indigenous Rights
- THE PARADIGM SHIFT: Reduction, Recycling, & Technology
- THE FUTURE: Solutions, Policy, & Resistance Around Plastic
Host/EJR Producer: Jessica Aldridge
Series Producer: Georgia Tunioli
Executive EJR Producer: Jack Eidt
Engineer: Blake Lampkin
Social Media/Graphics: Stephanie Lemus
PART 1 – EXTRACTION: Fracking and Drilling for Plastic Dreams – Ep. 54
On our first installment, we start at the well, the oily, methane producing beginnings of plastic. We discuss the extraction process, economic viability (of a bankrupt fossil fuel industry), the Texas Permian Basin (slated to be the global exporter), and the social and environmental costs of plastic before a product is even created.
Our guests include Jane Patton from the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and Stop Formosa], Sharon Wilson, Senior Organizer for Earthworks [@TXsharon] and Ethan Buckner, Energy Campaigner also with Earthworks [twitter.com/ethanbuckner].
PART 2 – REFINEMENT: Cracking the Plastic Production Boom – Ep. 57
Once extracted, how does oil and gas become the resin that will eventually be the plastic we use in our daily lives? Then when we buy these products, the social and environmental justice issues are out-of-sight, out-of-mind.
The Plastic Plague journey now leads us to plastic manufacturing and the social justice issues, from Point Comfort, Texas, to St. James, Louisiana, also known as Cancer Alley. On this episode, we breakdown how fossil fuels become plastic and follow the train of economic interests and irresponsibility. We hear from front-line activists dealing with plastic manufacturing and the impact to their communities’ quality of life.
Our guests include Diane Wilson, Executive Director of San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper; Sharon Lavigne, Founding Director of RISE St. James; and Jim Vallette, President of Material Research L3C.
PART 3 – HUMAN HEALTH: The Threats of Plastic – Ep. 59
On this episode, we investigate the impact plastics have on our personal health and quality of life. From our food packaging to our building material, we cover the toxins types, corporate responsibility, and how can we avoid exposure. We dive into what it means to support the efforts of frontline communities to minimize exposure by reducing these toxic chemicals. Did you know that after packaging, the #1 global use of plastic is building materials?
Our guests include Yvette Arellano, Policy Research & Grassroots Advocate for TEJAS, Dr. Julia Varshavsky, Reproductive Health and the Environment, UCSF Medical Center, and Bill Walsh, Healthy Building Network.
PART 4 – THROWAWAY SOCIETY: Economics & Inequity of (Plastic) Consumption – Ep. 61
In this episode, we go global and investigate the economics & inequity of plastic consumption once thrown away. Does plastic truly get recycled and what is the burden of other countries? More than 300 million tons of new plastic is produced annually and less than 10% is recycled. 40% of the plastic produced is for packaging. China was the recycling destination for over 40% of the USA’s waste commodities. When they shuttered their doors to recycling imports, new opportunities popped up in other countries, but with it came the same issues of contamination, excess waste, and a dumping ground for the consequences of a “throwaway society.”
PART 5 – THE BOTTLE SCAM: Land, Water, and Indigenous Rights – Ep. 62
We connect the dots between the Water Bottle Scam and the fight for Land, Water, and Indigenous Rights.
The chain of environmental and social impacts is an embedded cost of bottled water, a resource that is supposed to give us life, but now arguably the process to extract, make, ship, store, and dispose seems to take from it. With a ½ billion bottles used and disposed of every week in the United States, while land and water resources are stolen and polluted, it is time to close the tap on the Bottle Scam. However, the solution isn’t as easy as switching over to a reusable water bottle.
Our guests include Stiv Wilson, Co-Director of @peakplastic and Creator and Producer of the film, The Story of Plastic and Raven Stevens, Board Member of W.A.T.E.R. (We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review). Raven does not speak for the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. They are a sovereign nation and speak for themselves. They can be reached at: https://www.winnememwintu.us/ for further information.
PART 6 – THE PARADIGM SHIFT: Reduction, Recycling, & Technology – Ep. 64
We explore how reduction, recycling, and technology can create a paradigm shift that is solution oriented, equitable, and achievable.
There is too much plastic production for recycling to be the end-all-be-all solution to our problems, not to mention the inequity from its creation to disposal. However, waste-to-energy, chemical recycling, and plastic-to-fuel also have their concerns and might not be the winning silver bullet. Solutions best laid are community oriented and do not compromise the needs of future generations. So who is responsible for shifting the norm? Is it consumers, business, or manufacturers? How do we create community-based solutions? And how do these solutions around reuse and recycling weather issues and concerns related to virus spread and pandemics like COVID-19.
Our guests include Claire Arkin, from GAIA (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives), Marcus Eriksen of 5 Gyres Institute, and Keng Baloco, of Athens Services.
PART 7 – THE FUTURE: Solutions, Policy, & Resistance Around Plastic – Ep. 66
We investigate how solutions, policy, & resistance around plastic can elevate, inspire, and drive change at a systems-level approach. We also dive into how reduction and reusables are still a viable and necessary solution, even when up against concerns relating to viruses like COVID-19.
The global community is up against a take and make economy where packaging is not the only disposable, but so is energy, water, resources, and PEOPLE! Our guests share how to inspire action and connect the dots for everyone who uses, disposes of, or is in some way affected by plastic. We all have the opportunity to play our role when it comes to creating and demanding the future we want to see.
#ZeroWasteAlly & Media Partners
Updated 3 February 2021