Sasha Adkins, Ph.D., is a 2017 graduate of the Ph.D. Program in Environmental Studies at Antioch University, New England
- Alesia Maltz, Ph.D., Committee Chair
- Abigail Abrash Walton, Ph.D., Committee Member
- Janaki Natarajan Tschannerl, Ed.D., Committee Member
plastic marine debris, plastic-mediated magnification, methyl mercury, environmental justice, white fragility, eco-theology, endocrine disruption, disposable culture
Plastics, the epitome of disposable culture, pose both a toxicological and a spiritual problem. This dissertation examines plastics at a molecular level using the discourse of endocrine disruption, and at a sociological level using the discourses of eco-theology and environmental justice. Adding to the literature on the adsorption of toxicants to plastic marine debris, I demonstrate that certain types of plastic -- those containing mercaptans, such as styrene butadiene block copolymer -- efficiently concentrate methyl mercury from seawater. Further, samples of polycarbonate contributed mercury to seawater. I propose the term plastic-mediated magnification to describe the phenomenon that plastics, along with their adsorbed toxicants, are being ingested directly and indirectly at each trophic level, with profound implications for quantitative risk modeling of the environmental fate and transport of persistent pollutants. I also propose an "eco-theology of zero waste," linking the habits cultivated by interacting with the natural / material world as if it were disposable and only instrumentally valuable to the mindset that people, or at least some people, are similarly disposable when not deemed useful or productive to society. I propose a framework for teaching about environmental justice issues, like plastics, by recognizing and countering defensive tactics that students may employ in order to resolve their cognitive dissonance about being a well-intentioned person in a society that treats some of us as disposable. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA, http://aura.antioch.edu/ and Ohio Link ETD Center, https://etd.ohiolink.edu/etd.
Adkins, S. (2017). From Disposable Culture to Disposable People: Teaching About the Unintended Consequences of Plastics. https://aura.antioch.edu/etds/395