Plastics have emerged as the omnipresent material and challenge of the Anthropocene. Since the mid 20th century, a staggering amount of plastics have been produced, manufactured, used, disposed of and accumulated as waste in the environment. Despite their benefits, plastics are threatening the health and well-being of human and non-human life forms (Alkire 2002; Sangha et al. 2015; Sen 1993; 1999). While the plastics crisis is documented, there is little understanding of the dynamic lived experiences of coastal communities disrupted by plastic waste. Moreover, there is a need for understanding the social life of plastics and how they impact well-being across their many life stages. This study explores human-plastic entanglements, asking how colonial and toxic legacies, issues of inequity, and well-being are embedded into the social life of plastics and the ways plastics are managed and mismanaged. To address these questions we implemented a co-produced survey in a small community in Elmina, Ghana where locals are highly dependent upon their surrounding coastal environment and plastic waste entanglements are of serious concern. Beyond this initial study, the survey instrument can serve as a more holistic guide for future assessments of the role of plastics in communities and the ways in which local people can inform equitable and locally-appropriate mitigation solutions.
Ivy Serwaa Gyimah Akuoko, Suzy An, Jill Falman, Gabriel Lau, Karin Otsuka, Marlena Skrobe, Jessica Vandenberg and Images by Nicholas Adatsi, "Rethinking Plastic Realities (pre-recorded presentation)", contributed by , STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 30 September 2021, accessed 19 October 2021.