Senahu Guatemala dump
EcoJustice Radio

Break Free From The Plastic Death Cycle


EcoJustice RadioEcoJustice Radio discusses the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act and a new report exploring the environmental justice impacts of plastic pollution.

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Senahu Guatemala dumpClimbing Out of the Plastic Death Cycle

Have you heard of the Death Cycle of Plastic (vs the life cycle)? Our guests talk solutions and actions from current Congressional legislation and to a new report shining a light on the environmental justice impacts. What about Zero Waste; should it be reclaimed and restructured? And how do we decipher real solutions from false (that just promote more waste and social impacts)?

Plastic seems to be everywhere and in everything (including our bodies). Plastic also comes from somewhere and it carries with it a sordid history of environmental racism and climate disruption, starting with the extraction and refinement of fossil fuels, then moving to the manufacturing, transportation, consumer use, and final disposal of plastic. Our guests today explain why this should no longer be considered the “life cycle of plastic,” but instead a more accurate reflection in the Plastic Death Cycle.

On this show EcoJustice Radio again explores the cost of plastic. Our guests will share what is happening with the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act – Congressional legislation meant to take real action AND a new report from Azul shining a light on the environmental justice impacts of plastic pollution.

Also be sure to listen to EcoJustice Radio’s special 7-part series “THE PLASTIC PLAGUE: Connecting the Dots Between Extraction, Inequity, and Pollution.” To find the series go to

Plastic! By now you have probably heard about the role it plays in polluting our waterways or the concerns with recycling. For many it has become more obvious how intimate of a relationship we have with plastic not just with our coffee cups and utensils, but in clothing and carpet, our electronic devices, food packaging and beauty products, it is everywhere and it can seem like it is going nowhere quick, except shedding into our oceans, our air, our soil, our food and even our bodies (including breast milk).

Currently, more than 300 million tons of new plastic is produced annually and less than 10% is recycled. (we are not talking about just your water and detergent bottles, this is ALL plastic.)  However, 40% of the plastic produced is for packaging. In the United States, containers and packaging make up 30% of total waste generation (before it is processed or landfilled).

How do we stop the flow and Break Free from this stranglehold? Who is responsible? Is it the consumer through their purchasing choices and litter management. Or is there an extended responsibility necessary by the producer? (also known as EPR.)

The consumer is usually none the wiser of the social and environmental social justice issues that are attached to the products we purchase, covered up by marketing campaigns and green washed promises.

So how can we decipher real solutions from false solutions (so called solutions that usually promote the continued stream of waste and social harms). Is Zero Waste the solution or does the movement (popularized thru social media) need to be reclaimed and restructured, so the focus is no longer on purchasing less wasteful items, but on social impacts and accessibility for all.

Marcela Gutiérrez-Graudinš, Founder & Executive Director of Azul, a grassroots  organization working with Latinx communities to protect the ocean.

Melissa Aguayo, Member Engagement Officer for Break Free From Plastic US, and Co Chair of Reusable LA. She is an activist and educator at heart. A big believer in collaborative work, Melissa has worked with a diverse group of stakeholders from grassroots community organizing, citizen science, bilingual educational programming, coalition building, to policy and advocacy work.

Jessica Aldridge, co-host of EcoJustice Radio, is an environmental educator, community organizer, and waste industry leader. She is a co-founder of SoCal 350, organizer for ReusableLA, and founded Adventures in Waste. She has worked for 15 years as a Zero Waste professional, a former professor of Recycling and Resource Management at Santa Monica College, and is a recipient of the inaugural Waste Expo 40 Under 40 award.

For more on the plastic pollution conundrum, check out our seven-part series, “The Plastic Plague: Connecting the Dots Between Extraction, Inequity, and Pollution” – Check out Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7


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EcoJustice Radio, Break Free from Plastic

Host and Producer: Jessica Aldridge
Engineer: Blake Lampkin
Executive Producer: Jack Eidt
Show Created by Mark and JP Morris
Music: Javier Kadry
Episode 96
Image: Jack Eidt

Updated 1 June 2021

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