Session Chairs: Jane Patton, Plastic Pollution Coalition; Genevieve Abedon, Ecoconsult

This panel will be a call to action to all groups engaged in solutions for plastic pollution / marine litter work to engage as equals with communities of color and others that are disproportionately affected to innovate, create, and adopt best practices.

Too often in the plastic pollution / marine litter / ocean conservation / environmental protection fight, the conversations are led by relatively affluent groups, representative of those traditionally in power in their respective countries, who often live and work in coastal areas. We as a global community do not always do the necessary work of valuing the experience, uplifting the innovations, and highlighting the hard-earned successes of other groups and individuals doing the work. We could be and should be doing a better job of engaging and empowering non-traditional allied voices who are a ) disproportionately affected by plastic pollution/marine litter, b) have shown in polling to deeply care about the issue, and c) inland and near non-coastal waterways that eventually lead to the marine environment.

This panel is meant to highlight this and to propose best practices for checking our own biases and ensuring environmental actions and the environmental movement as a whole, locally and globally,  includes all communities affected by, and also equally able to take on the solutions to, global environmental concerns, particularly marine litter/plastic pollution.

Audience members will be treated to an honest, emotional, deeply important discussion on how this form of bias has oftentimes left out those who are affected by plastic pollution/marine litter, and their voices will be welcomed in deciding on best practices for overcoming it and moving forward. Empower them to take matters into their own hands.



  • –      Von Hernandez, Break Free From Plastic
  • –      Marcela Graudiņš, Azul
  • –      Amanda Ford, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water
  • –      Bharati Chaturvedi, Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group
  • –      Rosa Furumoto, California State University, Northridge
  • –      Irma Munoz, Mujeres de La Tierra
  • –      Stiv Wilson, The Story of Stuff Project




Plastic Pollution & Environmental Justice

Authors: Genevieve Abedon (Ecoconsult, United States), Jane Patton (Plastic Pollution Coalition), Genevieve Abedon (Ecoconsult), Stiv Wilson (The Story of Stuff Project), Yvette Lopez (Pacoima Beautiful), Rosa Furumoto, Irma Munoz (Mujeres de La Tierra), Amanda Ford (Environmental Justice Coalition for Water), Von Hernandez (Break Free From Plastic)

Low-income communities across the world are oftentimes hardest hit by the forces that drive our global (and growing) dependence on single-use plastic. Disadvantaged communities and communities of color are often even targeted for placement of infrastructure that perpetuates this system, from extraction to waste disposal. Yet rarely are the voices of these groups included in discussions about solutions, and concerns of environmental justice are often relegated to separate conversations rather than being integrated into every discussion.


Every conversation about plastic pollution and marine debris must be driven by principles of equity. Each conversation at local, national, and international levels must include the values, expertise, experiences, and on the ground efforts of the most adversely affected communities, especially as we plan for innovative solutions and ways to approach the major forces degrading our environment worldwide. These solutions are for the benefit of all, and must include input from all.


This panel will propose best practices for including principles of community organizing and equity in environmental actions, policy recommendations, and solutions development to the plastic pollution problem. A group of diverse representatives of energized but typically under-engaged communities will discuss how to include and elevate the solutions coming out of these front-line communities, and will recommend methods for building relationships and including those voices in agenda-setting and goal definition within conversations about solutions to marine litter and plastic pollution now and in the future.