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

Forthcoming from University of California Press, 2023
Book Series: Environmental Communication, Power, and Culture
Podcast: Communicating Care, more background on the Communicating Care podcast
More Podcasts on plastics, environmental and disability justice, & care

Talking about plastic pollution feels charged. Beyond Strawmen moves beyond “hot take” or straw man fallacies by illustrating how affective publics mobilized around plastics reveal broader environmental stories about power and culture. Inspired by advocacy in the Global South and the Global South of the North, Pezzullo focuses on plastic controversies in Kenya, the US, and Vietnam—on and offline—through hashtag activism, campaign materials, and podcast interviews. She argues plastics have become an articulator of crisis or entry point into contemporary environmental injustices, including climate fatalism, corporate greenwashing, waste colonialism, carceral environmental policies, marine life endangerment, American Exceptionalism, eco-ableism, and human rights censorship. Pezzullo shows how these unsustainable patterns are resisted through critically interrupting dominant narratives, collectively amplifying marginalized voices, humorously nudging public opinion, and creatively expressing dissent. Attuning ourselves to these networked cultures suggests caring for international, intersectional, and interspecies interdependence requires imperfect but necessary actions.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Care Amid an Ocean of Trouble
Chapter 1: #ThereIsNoAway:
The Crisis of Plastics and the Cultural Politics of Resistance
Chapter 2: Have a Coke and a Calculator:
Hegemonic Hashtags and Transnational Plastic 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: The Critique of #SuckItAbleism:
Voice as Justice, Eco-Normative Shaming, and Planetary Fatalism
Chapter 6: Creating #toichonca (#IChooseFish):
Regenerative Cultures, Global Frictions, and Big Tech Dominance
Conclusion: #BreakFreeFromPlastic