The Dominican Republic (DR) experienced an economic boom related to tourism development over the last 30 years. Subsequently, consumption has increased, accompanied by an exponential growth in inorganic waste. Without adequate solid waste management, an environmental crisis has developed. Plastic waste litters roadsides, streets, streams, and beaches, threatening the very industry that enabled it. Informal waste collectors are on the front line of addressing, if not alleviating, the crisis but are regarded as marginal and inconsequential. A new waste regime is inevitable and imminent. Waste collectors are justifiably concerned that new systems may threaten their livelihoods. As such, they leverage their work, vis-à-vis a gift economy, to place themselves as essential to addressing the environmental crisis.