Plastic isn't just an environmental issue that pollutes our oceans and harms our wildlife. It's an environmental racism issue that affects BIPOC disproportionately from production to consumption to disposal.
So what do we do besides participate in Plastic Free July? Transitioning from disposables to reusables is a great start and there are more and more refill stores and reusable options available, but it's not yet an equitable solution. Reusables have a higher upfront cost and refill shops are not yet widespread enough.
Surfrider has a very informative post about this subject on their blog called "A Reality Check on Environmental Racism & Plastics." In it they lay out "5 Principles for a Just Recovery" that help it seem less overwhelming. Read the principles below, but be sure to check out the entire post.
"1) Prioritize health for people and planet - Public health must be protected, prioritizing frontline workers, fenceline communities, and other vulnerable populations. Environments and human rights of impacted countries and communities cannot be compromised by the business interests of the global elite.
2)Investment not bailouts - Deprioritize and divest from extractive industries and their boom and bust cycles. Transition the workforce into sustainable economies with free training programs. Bailouts must be investments in community resiliency, not corporate interests.
3)Replace single-use with sustainable systems - Single-use must be replaced with sustainable product delivery systems. The externalized costs from extraction to disposal must be eliminated.
4)Demand government and corporate accountability - Government policies must ensure countries manage their own waste. Policy must be informed by credible, third-party science. Corporate responsibility and accountability should be mandated and consistent in all regions where companies do business.
5)Engage impacted communities - Support community efforts to hold industry accountable for its impacts. Regulators must measure and monitor emissions, as well as health impacts of frontline communities."
Photo credit: Hermes Rivera