What is the role of storytelling in altering the future of plastics? How might storying plastics differently help shift culture? Or invite change? Or directly address plastic pollution, drawing down the volume of short-term use plastics and the host of support chemistries that make them possible?
This event emerged from a series of four pieces on plastics that Orion published over 2020-2021. You can watch the webinar here, hosted by Beyond Plastics’ Judith Enck, but I encourage you to read all of the pieces in the series, too. Dr. Rebecca Altman, who is a sociologist working on a book about the socio-environmental legacy of plastics, served as the guest editor and it was a beautiful collaborative process to work with her and Orion editor Sumanth Prabhaker.
Rebecca’s piece, “Upriver,” reveals her journey of generations, of thinking you’re moving away from something when you’re really diving right into it. Because you can’t not. Because it’s everywhere. Orion, which is a gorgeous magazine that you really should subscribe to so you can enjoy the sumptuous art and layout as well as the words, features Ansel Adams photography you’ve never seen before with her piece.
“Hand in Glove” by David Ferrier, author of Footprints: In Search of Future Fossils, was written early in the pandemic and considers all those plastic gloves…and the last hand he held before lockdown, his grandmother’s.
Plastics geographer Dr. Max Liboiron‘s considers their role as a researcher in Newfoundland in the piece “Plastics in the Gut.” When does scientific standardization turn into a form of colonialism and how can researchers learn to think with locals as they gather information? Their book, Pollution is Colonialism, explores this more deeply.
And my piece was “The Nature of Plastics,” in which I explored the ecological, biological and geological impact of this material that is so new, and so transformative, and so ubiquitous that it is altering every facet of life on earth.