Using plastic as a currency to close the loop and tackle global poverty (interview with David Katz of The Plastic Bank)

Green Dreamer - Podcast on Environmental Sustainability and Regeneration
Habitat restoration is super important, but what we need to do is to keep the habitat from being polluted to begin with.

This is a conversation on Green Dreamer with Kaméa Chayne, a podcast exploring environmental regeneration and intersectional sustainability from ideas to life. Subscribe to Green Dreamer on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or any podcast app to stay informed and up to date on our latest episodes.


David Katz (@DavidKatzPB) is the founder of Plastic Bank, which is helping to make plastic waste a currency that transcends poverty while stopping the flow of plastic into our oceans.

On this podcast episode, David sheds light on what sugar has to do with plastic pollution; why we need to address the fact that this global crisis is intricately linked to poverty; the importance of coming up with ways that keep plastics out of our oceans to begin with (i.e., turning off the tap) rather than focusing on retroactive cleanups (i.e., mopping the floor while it's still being flooded); and more.

To start, get a glimpse below into the conversation between David and Green Dreamer Podcast's host, Kaméa Chayne.

On focusing on prevention rather than restoration:

“The immediacy is habitat restoration.

I resent when people call it 'beach cleanup.' It's selfish—'I want to go clean my beach so it's prettier for me.' Well, how about we go and restore habitat, mangrove, and nesting ground?

Habitat restoration is super important, but what we need to do is to keep the habitat from being polluted to begin with.

That means coming back to the root of it to prevent the plastic from flowing into the ocean from the beginning. We have to turn tap off; we have to stop the flow of plastic from entering the ocean. That's what we need to be doing.”

On seeing the value in the existing plastic we have:

"We have somewhere around the equivalent of 129 billion people worth of plastic on the earth by mass. So by volume, it may be three or four times that. We could have 500 billion people worth of plastic on the planet, and we're beyond the tipping point of replacing it.

We absolutely have to remove single-use material; there's no question there. [But] we can't replace plastic.

Many people want to advocate and say, 'We need an alternative.' But if we had an alternative today, if we completely replaced the use or need for plastic, we would have 500 billion people worth of some other non-valuable material that no one would go collect and it would go and murder even more.”

David’s closing words of wisdom:

"Everyone is unlimited and powerful. The only reason you don't think you're powerful is because of a story you have in your own mind that came from your past. For some reason, someone said that you weren't powerful, but it wasn't the truth. You are unlimited and immensely powerful for all of humanity.

And when we take the time to learn that and unleash ourselves, the world changes.”


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