People Over Plastic
By People Over Plastic
Are you ready to come on a journey with the most powerful BIPOC voices fighting towards an anti-racist and plastic-free future? Join our host Shilpi Chhotray as we delve into real conversations when it comes to justice and sustainability and who gets a seat at the table. This is People Over Plastic.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind [Community Advocate Ken Houston gets personal about the rise of illegal dumping in Oakland, California]
Piling up. Illegal dumping is skyrocketing in urban areas across the U.S. inflicting grave economic and environmental injustices on the cities' most vulnerable populations. In this episode, you’ll meet Ken Houston, a passionate third-generation resident of Oakland, California with 30 years of experience in the construction industry. Ken’s lifelong commitment is to restore the quality of life for impacted communities, and in the process, provide jobs for formerly incarcerated individuals. Tune in to hear Ken’s story which takes us into the heart of Oakland and opens our eyes to the harms of illegal dumping on low-income communities of color and the unhoused. Don’t forget to subscribe/follow People Over Plastic on all major podcast apps and follow us on Instagram and Twitter, @peoplexplastic. Show notes: To learn more about Ken’s work, check out the Beautification Council. Ken’s fight against illegal dumping has been featured on ABC 7, CBS News, and KTVU. Race and income are the greatest determinants as to whether you will live near plastic production and waste disposal facilities. These facilities are almost always near low-income households, unhoused populations, and black, Latino, and indigenous neighborhoods. The truth is, there is no safe place to produce toxic plastics or dispose of our waste. This is why community recycling advocates are working to eliminate the production of unnecessary and toxic plastics and hold producers responsible to recover their products for recycling. More resources: Illegal Dumping as an Indicator for Community Social Disorganization and Crime, A Brief History of Illegal Dumping and Solutions, and Toxic Waste and Race in 21st Century America. Over 1000 listeners have placed their trust in People over Plastic’s fearless coverage since we launched in October 2021. Unlike other podcasts, we have no shareholders and no billionaire owner. Just the determination and passion for changing the narrative--to tell a true story, produced by BIPOC storytellers that will build power against corporations and governments invested in plastic production. But projects like ours are often under-resourced and underestimated by many institutional funders. That's why we depend on supporters like YOU. However big or small, every contribution powers our BIPOC storytelling and sustains our future. Support People over Plastic from as little as $1 - it only takes a minute. DONATE NOW
May 19, 2022
How The Hell Did It Get HERE? [Hear how Filipino customs official John Simon stopped the biggest waste shipment from being dumped in his country]
When you think about your country’s top exports, do you think of garbage? In “How the hell did it get HERE?”, get to know the touching personal story of a Filipino customs official who has dedicated his 30-year career to ensure foreign trash is not illegally smuggled into his country. John Simon went from being an everyday customs collector to capturing the attention of international headlines for stopping the biggest waste shipment - containing 8,000 tons of garbage - from being dumped in the Philippines. Tune in to hear John Simon’s story of courage and the corrupt business of waste. Don’t forget to subscribe/follow to People Over Plastic on all major podcast apps and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @peoplexplastic, happy listening! Resources: You can find more news about John Simon’s story in the Inquirer, Rappler, ABS CBN News, and GMA news online. John Simon received the prestigious United Nations Environment Program Award as one of 8 winners on the frontlines of protecting our planet. To learn more about the inner workings of the waste trade and its impact on import countries, check out: The Plastic Waste Trade Manifesto by Break Free From Plastic, DISCARDED - communities on the frontlines of the global plastic crisis by GAIA, and Plastic for Profit [Tracing illicit plastic waste flows, supply chains, and actors] by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. Over 1000 listeners and still counting have placed their trust in People over Plastic’s fearless coverage since we launched in October 2021. Unlike other podcasts, we have no shareholders and no billionaire owner. Just the determination and passion for changing the narrative--to tell a true story, produced by BIPOC storytellers that will build power against corporations and governments invested in plastic production. But projects like ours are often under-resourced and underestimated by many institutional funders. That’s why we depend on supporters like YOU. However big or small, every contribution powers our BIPOC storytelling and sustains our future. Support People over Plastic from as little as $1 – it only takes a minute. Thank you. DONATE NOW.
May 05, 2022
From Brooklyn to Chinatown [Hear the personal story of Pierre Simmons, a NYC musician and canner]
We’re back with Season 2 of our podcast series! First up, our host Shilpi Chhotray meets with Pierre Simmons, An NYC-based musician and canner - who shares his personal story about becoming a canner and how it’s possible to make a living from the empty glass, plastic bottles, and cans lying on the street. Pierre goes deep into his journey and expertise as a canner to understand how this essential work, primarily done by people of color, especially from the immigrant community, shapes the way waste moves around the city. You’ll also learn about ‘Sure We Can’, a non-profit recycling center that supports the lives of hundreds of canners in a challenging local political environment. Tune in to learn more about Pierre and how some New Yorkers are paying rent with canning. Don’t forget to subscribe to People Over Plastic on all major podcast apps and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @peoplexplastic, happy listening! Resources: Pierre trades his glass, bottles, and cans for cash at Sure We Can. For several years, SWC's landlord has threatened them with eviction. SUPPORT the canning community to save the beloved community center. You can also find out more about their work through media coverage by The New York Times, CNN, and NBC. To learn more about Pierre’s life watch the Story of Stuff documentary Glass, Metal, Plastic: The Story of New York’s Canners. You can read the stories of other canners and have a visual experience of their journeys at NYC Canners. As Pierre mentioned, the Bottle Bill needs updating, including the proposed increase from 5c-10c. Learn more about a reimagined bottle bill here: Reimagining The Bottle Bill. Check out Alliance of Mission-Based Recyclers for more on community-based non-profit recycling in the US. Over 1000 listeners and still counting have placed their trust in People over Plastic’s fearless coverage since we launched in October 2021. Unlike other podcasts, we have no shareholders and no billionaire owner. Just the determination and passion for changing the narrative--to tell a true story, produced by BIPOC storytellers that will build power against corporations and governments invested in plastic production. But projects like ours are often under-resourced and underestimated by many institutional funders. That’s why we depend on supporters like YOU. However big or small, every contribution powers our BIPOC storytelling and sustains our future. Support People over Plastic from as little as $1 – it only takes a minute. Thank you. DONATE NOW.
April 22, 2022
Season 2 Trailer
Welcome back to Season 2 of People Over Plastic. We invite you on a journey to hear how waste moves throughout our world, across oceans and continents, through organized crime and black markets. Join our host, Shilpi Chhotray, as she meets with courageous individuals around the globe to learn what’s really happening when it comes to the business of waste. People Over Plastic presents "Waste Mafia".
April 14, 2022
Still in My Backyard [featuring Filipino environmental activist Von Hernandez, climate justice campaigner Yvette Arellano, and Indonesian lawyer Tiza Mafira]
Welcome back for our season 1 finale, ‘Still in My Backyard’ As we’ve underlined throughout season 1, the exclusion of BIPOC voices in mainstream narratives on both the climate and plastic pollution crisis has majorly hindered efforts to build a more just and equitable world. For many of us, when it comes to multi-layered issues linked to environmental racism, it’s difficult to grasp what this actually means in the day-to-day. For instance, imagine learning that petrochemical pollution is hindering your ability to start a family. Imagine if your city was used as a literal dumping ground for foreign trash. Imagine living with the daily anxiety of watching your kids grow up near a river you loved as a child, one that’s now choked with plastic pollution. In ‘Still in My Backyard’, our host Shilpi Chhotray gets personal with three incredible leaders from different parts of the world who spend a lot of time on the intersections of plastic, climate, health, and environmental justice. Our guests include: Von Hernandez, the Global Coordinator for the Break Free From Plastic movement based in Manila, Philippines. A Goldman Environmental Prize awardee, Von is one of Asia’s leading environmental activists and made history in 1999 when he helped make the Philippines the first country to ban waste incineration. You’ll also hear from Yvette Arellano from Houston, Texas. Yvette is a foremost environmental justice campaigner addressing the impacts of petrochemical production. After decades of working with communities on-the-ground, they recently founded Fenceline Watch which is dedicated to ending the multigenerational harm of communities living on the fenceline of industry. And last but not least, Tiza Mafira from Jakarta, Indonesia. An environmental lawyer by profession, Tiza works to mobilize governments and industries to ban the plastic bag throughout Indonesian supermarkets. Her organization Plastic Bag Diet Movement (IDDKP), is pushing for a nationwide ban on plastic bags. Von, Yvette, and Tiza are featured in the Emmy-award winning documentary: The Story Of Plastic. Don’t forget to subscribe to People Over Plastic available on Apple and Spotify! Stay tuned to our season 2 drop. Follow People Over Plastic on social media at @peopleXplastic on Instagram & Twitter. Resources: Story of Plastic - link to watch the full documentary Tiza in New Security Beat: Aiming for A World Where Everything Is Circular: Q&A with Indonesia Plastic Bag Diet Cofounder Tiza Mafira Yvette in the New York Times: In the Shadows of America’s Smokestacks, Virus is One More Deadly Risk Von in South China Morning Post: False promise of disposable plastic recycling obscures firms role in global waste crisis About Break Free From Plastic movement: website About Fenceline Watch: website About IDDKP: website
February 10, 2022
Reprogramming the Root (in conversation with Indigenous Leader Frankie Orona and Bangalore-based artist and TEDx speaker Shilo Shiv Suleman)
People and the planet are not two different operating systems and no one understands this better than indigenous communities. In this episode, we will dig deeper into the role of Indigenous culture and traditions and how pivotal it is to acknowledge their leadership in the fight for justice and against climate change. Meet Frankie Orona, Indigenous leader and Executive Director of Society of Native Nations, an organization founded by a small group of Native people in Texas. In our conversation with Frankie, he emphasizes the need to end bank financing of extreme fossil fuels as a way to call out the systems that keep communities of color in cycles of harm. Similarly, you’ll hear from Shilo Shiv Suleman, a Bangalore-based Indian animator, illustrator, and visual artist. Shilo’s craft which focuses on the intersection of magical realism, art for social change and technology led her to founding the Fearless Collective - a movement of participative storytelling. During the recently held Unilever-sponsored COP 26 in Glasgow, Shilo’s mural “At the Root” gave deep homage to indigenous elders who continue to be sidelined to the point of erasure. Frankie and Shilo’s stories signal the call to reprogram our roots as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Don’t forget to subscribe to People Over Plastic available on Apple and Spotify! Follow People Over Plastic on social media at @peopleXplastic on Instagram & Twitter. Resources: Ending bank financing of extreme fossil fuels: Press Release quoting Frankie Shilo’s 2018 TED Talk: A woman’s journey to fearlessness At the Root at COP 26: in the Glasgow Times Shilo's wearable brass temple: Sotheyby's Society of Native Nations: website Fearless Collective: website
December 16, 2021
Bag Bans and Border Wall (in conversation with river protector Tricia Cortez and Malawian environmental activist Gloria Majiga-Komoto)
To truly understand environmental justice, we need to better understand its relationship to social justice and racial justice. As we learned in episode two of our show, decisions are being made about people of color and indigenous communities, with very little understanding about their lived experiences. Challenges with racism, socio-economic struggles and geopolitical realities are at the crux of environmental justice. On “Bag Bans and Border Wall”, we're going to dissect the concept with two incredible women in very different parts of the world who are fighting the plastics industry head on. First we’ll meet fierce river protector Tricia Cortez, Executive Director of the Rio Grande International Study Center. In addition to leading a decade-long fight against plastic bags in Laredo, Texas, Tricia fought and won a groundbreaking battle against the Trump administration on plans to build a 30-ft steel wall through her hometown. You’ll also hear from the 2021 Goldman Prize Awardee, Gloria Majiga-Komoto. Speaking to us from her home in Malawi, Gloria shares her story of a 4-year battle against the plastic industry in support of a national ban on thin plastics. Her passion and dedication to her community is evident, as she shares her struggle against political corruption, sexism, and industry intimidation. Tricia and Gloria's courage, organizing power and relentless will to protect their community demonstrates how important it is to define leadership by those who stand the most to lose. Don’t forget to subscribe to People Over Plastic available on Apple and Spotify! Follow People Over Plastic on social media at @peopleXplastic on Instagram & Twitter. Resources: It’s Over! The Border Wall in Laredo is Officially Dead: EarthJustice Press Release Fund Our Future campaign 2021 Goldman Environmental Prize winner for Africa: Gloria Majiga-Kamoto Gloria in NPR
December 02, 2021
Community Lunchbox (in conversation with food delivery entrepreneurs Zuleyka Strasner and Ritesh Andre)
When considering solutions to the plastic pollution crisis, you’ve probably seen the famous zero-wasters on social media proudly flexing their latest plastic-free purchases. With cult-like followings, they often share tips and tricks with fancy products for greener living. The fact is, zero-waste is not a new concept and has deep roots in ancestral practices in communities of color. It did not start on Instagram by the millennial elite. In this episode, hear from two innovative entrepreneurs who are decolonizing mainstream thinking about zero-waste. As their stories demonstrate, zero-waste actually started thousands of years ago in communities with origins in taking care of the earth and understanding that reciprocity. Meet Zuleyka Strasner, founder and CEO of Zero Grocery - a platform that offers next-day delivery on 2,000+ plastic-free goods for everyday people. You’ll also meet Ritesh Andre whose great grandfather founded Mumbai’s famous Dabbawalas network. This robust 130-year old system delivers plastic-free meals on bicycles without any technology. Hear how Zuleyka and Ritesh are scaling their innovative models while adjusting to current socio-economic realities and social norms. Don’t forget to subscribe to People Over Plastic available on Apple and Spotify! Follow People Over Plastic on social media at @peopleXplastic on Instagram & Twitter. Resources: Zero Grocery https://zerogrocery.com/ Zuleyka’s feature in INC magazine Delivering Lunch in Mumbai in the New York Times Harvard Business Review’s take on Mumbai’s Dabbawalas
November 18, 2021
If you aren’t at the table, you’re on the menu (in conversation with environmental attorney Patrice Simms and zero-waste activist Froilan Grate)
When we think about solving the plastic pollution crisis, we often think about beach cleanups and recycling - and for those of us that come from more privileged backgrounds, we strive to fit all our plastic waste for the year into a mason jar. The overarching thread here is problematic for two major reasons: we are marketed to believe plastic pollution is OUR fault as consumers, and that everyday people must clean up the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. The culture of convenience may be at the root cause of the plastic pollution crisis, but who is behind creating and marketing a society hooked on plastic? In the second episode of People Over Plastic, we zoomed into some core elements of environmental justice - like what it is and why it matters. Hear from Patrice Simms, an environmental attorney at EarthJustice who explains why it's critical to change the way decisions are made about individuals who are most impacted by them, especially Black communities who fall prey to industrial polluters. You’ll also hear from Filipino activist Froilan Grate of GAIA Asia Pacific who has a lot of experience exposing the failures behind the global recycling system and corporations’ double standards. Like Patrice, Froi raises the crucial perspective that people of color can create the space and seize the power that allows their voices to be heard. Don’t forget to subscribe to People Over Plastic available on Spotify, iTunes, Anchor! Follow People Over Plastic on social media at @peopleXplastic on Instagram & Twitter. Resources: From EarthJustice: How Big Oil is Using Toxic Chemicals as a Lifeline – and How We Can Stop It Break Free From Plastic's Brand Audit 2021 Report GAIA's report on Discarded: Communities on the Frontlines of the Global Plastic Crisis
November 04, 2021
99% (in conversation with Artivist extraordinaire Von Wong and Community Organizer Miss Sharon Lavigne)
It’s 2021: We’ve seen the videos, the nightly news clips, and the headlines that plastic pollution is a major threat to our planet. We unequivocally understand that we are drowning in a man-made material that pollutes our air, water, soil, and wildlife. But did you know that making plastic - cups, straws, bags, cutlery, styrofoam, pouches, polyester sweaters and yoga pants... is directly linked to the climate crisis and locks in cycles of harm to communities of color around the globe? 99% of plastic comes from fossil fuels and plastic production is a major driver of keeping the fossil fuel industry afloat. In order to tackle both the plastic pollution and the climate crisis, we must hold the fossil fuel industry to account. In our inaugural episode, you’ll hear how fantasy-like art is transforming the cultural landscape of how we quite literally view plastic pollution. Artivist Von Wong’s latest project is a 30-foot levitating tap to remind governments and corporations that the plastic crisis needs to be front and center in decision-making. You'll also hear from Sharon Lavigne, a retired special ed teacher who recently halted Formosa Plastics from coming into her hometown. If built, the industrial complex would triple the levels of carcinogens in her community. Sharon lives in the heart of Louisiana's Cancer Alley, a region of the US which is already blighted by racism and exorbitant cancer rates from industry polluters. Follow People Over Plastic on social media at @peopleXplastic on Instagram & Twitter. Resources: Von Wong's Turn Off The Plastic Tap Sharon Lavigne, a 2021 recipient of the Goldman Prize Take action against Formosa Plastic A deep dive on Fossil Fuels + Plastics
October 21, 2021
People Over Plastic: Coming Soon
Are you ready to come on a journey with the most powerful BIPOC voices fighting towards an anti-racist and plastic-free future? Join our host, Shilpi Chhotray, as we delve into real conversations when it comes to justice and sustainability and who gets a seat at the table. This is People Over Plastic.
October 12, 2021