More knowledge is being gained about and more attention is being given to the harm caused to our health and the planet by plastics, from the start of their production to their disposal as waste that doesn’t ever go away. Clearing the FOG speaks with Yvette Arellano, the founder and director of Fenceline Watch, an environmental justice organization based in Houston, Texas. Yvette explains that the Gulf Coast is not only the home of the oil and gas industries, but also the plastic industries that use petroleum, and how they impact mostly Vietnamese and Spanish-speaking communities. They describe the global effects of plastics, how we can best stop them and the work to create alternatives. Once you know about the problems with plastics, you will understand that stopping their production is imperative for a livable future.
Yvette Arellano (they/them) is a gulf coast organizer and emerging leader from Houston dedicated to environmental and racial justice. Yvette formally served as a policy research and grassroots advocate with Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services and has founded an environmental justice advocacy group of their own based in Houston, Texas called Fenceline Watch. Fenceline Watch is dedicated to the eradication of toxic multigenerational harm on communities living along the fenceline of industry. In 2015, they led the campaign against H.R. 702, which opened the floodgates to U.S. crude oil exports. They were instrumental in the publication Double Jeopardy in Houston, Air Toxics and Health in the Houston Community of Manchester, and Plastic and Health: The Hidden Cost of a Plastic Planet. This report highlights the disproportionate toxic impact of the petrochemical industry on communities living on the fenceline. Throughout their work, Yvette emphasizes that access to clean water, air, land, and food is a fundamental human right best pursued through vigorous intersectional thinking and organizing. They understand the importance of a multipronged approach that embraces various advocacy methods, including policy development, litigation, research, direct actions, coalition building, and crisis response. Having experienced health impacts and seeing their implications on the fenceline is why they understand the importance of uplifting reproductive justice
Currently, Yvette is leading efforts in Houston, home of the largest petrochemical complex in the nation, to help the city’s most vulnerable communities on the petrochemical expansion fueled by plastic production.
Yvette serves as a board member for the Center for International Environmental Law, Backbone Campaign, Greenlatinos, and Peak Plastic Foundation.