We conducted a formative research study on the peninsula of Samaná, in the northeast corner of the Dominican Republic, focused on how people viewed, categorized, and handled solid waste. With the passage of a new law, a motivated government administration is now addressing the solid waste crisis on the peninsula. Here, we examine some of the pre-existing attitudes about the solid waste of Samaná residents. Results from the study reveal that, contrary to many assumptions, local Dominicans are aware of the waste crisis and, in fact, are often depressed and anxious over it, even as they feel angry and helpless about how to resolve it. On closer examination and drawing on Appadurai’s theoretical framework of “-scapes,” we can understand that the waste crisis is not a local problem, and, as such, sustainable solutions need to include a broader effort to control plastic entering the environment.