Beyond Strawmen: Plastic Pollution, Impure Politics, & Networked Cultures of Care

Forthcoming from University of California Press, 2023
Book Series: Environmental Communication, Power, and Culture
To Listen to the Podcast: Communicating Care
Additional resources to network with anti-plastic pollution advocates, including petitions and pledges
More Podcasts on plastics, environmental and disability justice, & care
Videos and links about what Pezzullo calls “the plastics-industrial complex”

Addressing plastics can feel overwhelming. Guilt, shame, anger, hurt, fear, dismissiveness, and despair abound. Beyond Strawmen moves beyond “hot take” or straw man fallacies by illustrating how affective counterpublics mobilized around plastics reveal broader stories about the environmental justice and social change. Inspired by on and offline organizing in the Global South and the Global South of the North, Pezzullo engages public controversies, policies, and headline-making advocates in Bangladesh, Kenya, the US, and Vietnam through hashtag activism, campaign materials, and her podcast, Communicating Care. She argues plastics have become an articulator of crisis or entry point into contested environmental politics, including carbon-heavy masculinity, carceral policies, planetary fatalism, eco-ableism, greenwashing, marine life endangerment, and pollution colonialism. Attuned to plastic attachments, Beyond Strawmen shares how unsustainable patterns of the plastics-industrial complex are resisted through imperfect but impactful networked cultures of care.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Care Amid an Ocean of Trouble
Chapter 1: #ThereIsNoAway:
Carbon-Heavy Masculinity and The Life/Death Cycle of Plastics
Chapter 2: Have a Coke and a #FootprintCalculator:
The Myth of Recycling and Transnational Greenwashing
Chapter 3: From #BanPlasticsKE to #ISupportBanPlasticsKE:
Pissed Off Online, Picturing Participation, and Policing Pollution
Chapter 4: Engaging #StrawlessinSeattle and #StopSucking:
The Loneliest Whale, Sporting Fun, and American Exceptionalism
Chapter 5: #SuckItAbleism Intervenes:
Eco-Normative Shaming, Voicing Justice, and Planetary Fatalism
Chapter 6: Creating #toichonca (#IChooseFish):
Trauma, Affective Art, and Big Tech Dominance
Conclusion: #BreakFree(FromPlastics)