Heaps of plastic waste cover the shores of Manila Bay in the Philippines. Myrna Dominguez remembers when an abundance of fish inhabited its waters — locals would catch enough to feed their families and sell at the market. Today, she says, they are catching more plastic than fish.
“We’re very afraid that if this is not addressed, the bay, which 100,000 small fishers rely on, will no longer be viable for them,” Dominguez says.
In May, Dominguez and Indian labor organizer Lakshmi Narayan visited communities in the US that are affected by pollution from oil extraction and plastic production, to show the effects that these processes have on communities overseas. The “Stopping Plastic Where It Starts Tour,” organized by #Breakfreefromplastic and Earthworks, is part of a project that aims to reduce plastic consumption and production by raising awareness about the impacts of plastic production on the communities at either end of its supply chain.
Dominguez and Narayan, representing communities in Asia experiencing the effects of plastic pollution, visited places in the US experiencing the impacts of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) oil and gas production — an industry that is producing the raw materials to build plastic.
Dominguez is the policy and advocacy adviser of the Asia Pacific Network on Food Sovereignty, which campaigns to protect the rights of small food producers such as fishers and farmers, and to preserve fishing grounds and cultural lands of indigenous communities.
Narayan is the co-founder of Solid Waste and Collection Handling, a cooperative of waste-pickers in Pune, India, who collect waste throughout the city and separate it into categories for proper disposal.
Both women represent groups from Asian countries that are dealing with the effects of plastic pollution — particularly plastic that is produced and distributed by US companies.
“I’m hoping this tour will change American people’s views of how they live every day, and how it impacts poor…