A Creative Pause to Build a Narrative Strategy: Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)
This grant will enable GAIA to take a pause from the fast pace of its everyday work to develop a clear narrative strategy on the intersection between climate change, waste disposal, and economic resilience. While the materials economy is responsible for up to 44% of global greenhouse gas emissions with its cycle of extraction, production, consumption and waste, the climate change debate typically doesn't highlight these intersections. During the "pause", GAIA will convene frontline community leaders and environmental policy advocates, together with a communications consultant, to build a messaging strategy for these issues from a holistic approach that sparks change. They then will use this framework to develop skill-shares, organizing tools, and new media tools to bring a solutions-based analysis of waste into the national U.S. climate debate.
GLOBAL ALLIANCE INCINERATOR ALTERNATIVES (GAIA) is an international alliance that works both against incinerators and for safe, sustainable and just alternatives:A lot of attention has been paid in media and policy circles to energy and transportation as keys to addressing climate change. But the ways that we produce, transport, use, and throw away stuff have important impacts on the climate. EPA analysis shows that the systems to make, distribute, use and waste the stuff we use and the food we eat cause 42% of U.S. greenhouse gases and that these systems are deeply intertwined with energy and transportation.
Changing these systems together provides solutions that directly affect the health of the climate and the health of communities.
On the other side, the waste industry wants us to believe that burning garbage can solve our waste and climate problems. It makes for nice fairy tales: the fantasies that burning waste makes it disappear with no health impacts, that climate subsidies for burning waste make sense, and that burning plastics is even renewable.
But the real story is quite the opposite. Communities on the front-lines of incinerator pollution are paying the price with asthma, cancer, and other illnesses, and doling out cash to the toxic industry with long term contracts. On the climate side, burning garbage makes more climate pollution than burning coal, per unit of energy.
GAIA conceived our 'Pause' as an opportunity to get the real story out about burning waste and solutions that are working for waste. Across the country, grassroots activists are leading inspiring and successful campaigns against polluting waste practices, and moving towards real solutions. We have watched the stories of local struggles gain traction in local media outlets, but national policy and media debates remain dominated by industry voices. It’s not just the waste burning industry – the plastics industry is fully on board in calling for burning plastics, instead of choosing to redesign disposable and wasteful products.
The 'Pause' was an amazing opportunity to relate and develop our collective stories and messages to reach both local and national audiences, from the perspective of front-line communities, faith leaders, and national organizations focusing on environment and justice.
We all now have a clear choice: we can find real solutions like recycling and composting to dramatically reduce greenhouse gases, or we can allow polluting industries to push their climate-damaging industry as harmless, and spread into unsuspecting communities across the country.
Together we say: don’t burn our future!