Exploring intersectional approaches to waste through grassroots innovations in the U.K.

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Waste is an urgent global challenge. Patterns of excessive resource consumption and disposal are causing immense environmental and social damage. This paper argues that solutions to the waste crisis must be intersectional – addressing the ways in which multiple, overlapping forms of oppression are embedded in resource consumption and the generation of waste. Existing approaches to reducing waste in the U.K. and other Global North contexts have largely failed to take such an approach, but we identify grassroots innovations as a movement which may be well positioned to confront waste challenges in an intersectional way. Drawing on 19 interviews with practitioners and experts in the field of Grassroots Waste Innovations (GWIs), as well as analysis of select documents relating to key waste prevention projects, the article investigates the extent to which GWIs are taking an intersectional approach, and what this looks like. The research finds that GWIs are not generally understood in an intersectional way, but some compelling examples can be found. Framings, project design, and coalition-building emerge as key features of an intersectional approach. However, there are also some significant constraining factors. These include concerns that placing too much emphasis on multiple political causes will be off-putting to participants, lack of capacity, unhelpful funding structures, and the risk of tokenising people from marginalised groups in an attempt to increase diversity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLocal Environment
Early online date28 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Jun 2024

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