An Island Crusader Takes On The Big Brands Behind Plastic Waste

Read the full story from NPR.

Plastic is to our time what wood was for millennia. But unlike wood, most plastic doesn’t go away. It ends up as trash in streets, rivers, lakes and oceans. It breaks down into microplastic — particles a tenth of an inch or smaller — and gets into our food and water. The health effects are largely unknown.

News stories feature dead whales and turtles with stomachs full of plastic. Activists built a huge floating net to collect it (which recently failed). Concerned citizens clean up beaches.

But that’s not helping much. Eight million tons of plastic wash into oceans every year.

What’s the alternative? Is it feasible to persuade the wealthiest, most profitable corporations in the world to completely change the way they make plastic and package consumer goods?

There’s a group of people in a very unlikely place who are aiming to do just that. Their story starts in 2001, in Southeast Asia.

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