Trash Destinations: Ship Breaking Workers in Bangladesh

In the U.S., we have our own sense of environmental changes. Cities like Atlanta are dealing with a water shortage; dry states are getting dryer; coastal cities feel even more threatened by hurricanes. On the positive side, some rural areas are experiencing a renaissance of the small farm, and urban areas like New York are witnessing an explosion of farmer's markets, local food movements, and green building initiatives.

The environmental movement takes on different shades in other parts of the world. Sometimes the environmental "solutions" in the developing world actually cause serious ecological ramifications elsewhere, like in the Chinese cities mounded with British and American recycling. Bangladesh is the destination for another sort of trash: old ships. Imagine over 20,000 ship breaking workers dismantling old vessels coated with lead paint and assorted other toxins. Mortality is high (for workers); profits are high for owners.

What do we do with trash? We throw it "away." Sometimes it helps to get a visual sense of where this "away" is, and who the people are that live there. Syeda Rizwana Hasan is a Bangladeshi lawyer who is working on behalf of the shipyard laborers. Watch the video about her Goldman Environmental prize and her efforts to increase government protections and public awareness.

Hat tip: Everyday Trash

Tags: Asia, Bangladesh, Contamination, Human rights, Ship, Toxins, Trash, Workers

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