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Accepted Paper:

Overcoming intractable: responding to plastic materials and living well  
David Reynolds (Monash University)

Paper short abstract:

Agile response-ability to plastic materials is evolving in a vanguard spread across households. Responses to plastic in everyday practices produce interventions in plastic material flows, and also instances of ethico-political economy with implications beyond responsibility for plastics.

Paper long abstract:

Response-ability to plastic materials is far more agile in a vanguard spread across households, driven by felt responsibilities and concerns, than in policy-making. In the Australian context, as in most countries, plastics are ubiquitous in household provisioning practices. My project seeks to identify and map responses to plastic in everyday engagements, alterations and interventions which trouble and reconstitute human-plastic relations at the household level, forming ‘anti-plastic’ ethical-political responses to the flow of plastic materials through and around households. These responses are often efforts of caring, variously for the household, the environment, descendants, the future, and beyond. A striking aspect of anti-plastic responses is their broader or ‘flow-on’ influences in people’s lives. Many aspects of these flow-on effects can be seen as producing instances of an ethico-political economy, which extends beyond simple (dis-)engagement with plastic materials. This is an economy in which responses to plastic can see provisioning practices become mindful or playful or challenging, can initiate gardens, can trigger family bonding experiences, can privilege community-scale relations, as well holding the potential to be draining, frustrating or upsetting. It is an economy shaped by ethical and political concerns, without clear association with cohesive ethical campaigns or group politics. Anti-plastic ethical-political responses to plastics constitute hopeful steps towards overcoming the intractability of plastic. They intervene in specific material flows and make imaginable different ways of living with plastic, but also contribute to the development of dispersed instances of ethico-political economy with implications beyond responsibility for plastics.

Panel Evid03c
Intractable plastic: responsibilities in ‘plasticized’ worlds III
  Session 1 Friday 2 April, 2021, -