TED Talk: Van Jones Links Plastics Pollution With Poverty

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Van Jones gave a talk at a recent TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch event, and what he brought up about the correlation between plastic use and poverty was fascinating. Zeroing in on Cancer Alley, disposability of things, the placement of environmental issues and humanitarian issues as either/or efforts, the sense of righteousness tainting green actions, and sustainability as a poverty-fighting solution, Jones' talk is ripe with ideas.

"If we want to trash the planet, we have to trash people," is probably the statement that stood out to me the most. Jones points out that one is intricately linked to the other in ways that we often don't recognize. Environmentalism as a humanitarian issue is visible when it comes to e-waste dumps, or ruined farm land, or disappearing habitats for native tribes in the Amazon. But the production process, the access to choices to buy reuseables rather than disposables or organics rather than whatever is on a store's shelf -- these are things that need much more attention within the green movement.

"Are you going to hug a tree, or are you going to hug a child?" Jones notes that when it comes to plastic, it has to be both.