What is Environmental Justice?

It’s time to learn about Environmental Justice. Although the climate crisis is a global issue, some communities experience negative environmental impacts at a greater degree than others. Race and income level map closely with pollution, unequal protection, and vulnerability. Zip code is still the strongest predictor of an individual’s health and well-being. Environmental justice embraces the principle that all people and communities have a right to equal protection and equal enforcement of environmental laws and regulations.

How Does Environmental Justice Relate to Your Topic?

Learn about how Environmental Justice is linked with each of the climate crisis topics below. After you learn about environmental justice, reflect on how it relates to your chosen topic in and around your community.

EJ: Waste

Waste facilities like incinerators, landfills, and waste treatment plants are almost always located in communities of black, indigenous, and people of color whose residents experience the negative health impacts of the resulting increased pollutants and toxins. Each of these three options results in the production and emission of greenhouse gasses, air, and noise pollution.

What Can You Do?

  • Promote reusing and upcycling items
  • Advocate to improve healthcare and air quality
  • Hold facilities accountable on the chemicals they emit and use

EJ: Food

Large scale industrial animal factories and agricultural farms are intentionally created in rural areas where the land is cheaper and Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities live less than 5 miles away. Soon those community members and workers start to develop health problems like asthma, throat irritation, and anxiety from this industry due to pollution from chemicals in pesticides, animal waste, and industrial emissions.

What Can You Do?

  • Reduce meat consumption and support farmer’s markets
  • Promote healthy eating and support sustainably produced foods
  • Donate to and support food banks

EJ: Plants & Animals

During the day, low-income communities and communities of black, indigenous, and people of color could be 5°F warmer in the rural areas nearby and the difference could increase by 22°F in the evening. This is known as a heat island and it occurs in communities that have low access to resources that would keep them cool like trees for shade and light-reflecting surfaces.  

What Can You Do?

  •  Increase urban tree cover
  • Combat the urban heat island effect
  • Hold facilities accountable to increase tree coverage in a city

EJ: Water

More than 540 million school aged children attend schools that do not have basic clean drinking water and sanitation services. Residents in poor or Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities who live close to industrial buildings disproportionately risk contamination of their local water resources and leading to unsafe drinking water.

What Can You Do?

  • Reduce water consumption
  • Advocate to improve water quality
  • Hold facilities accountable to ensuring clean access to water

EJ: Energy & Transportation

Fossil fuel production unfairly impacts low-income communities and communities of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color where the residents are exposed to higher rates of pollution and toxins than they consume. Furthermore, As Highways were built across this country from 1957 to 1977, more than 1 million people living in low income communities and communities of color were displaced and their neighborhoods were destroyed for the benefit of those in more wealthy communities.

What Can You Do?

  • Advocate for transitions to renewable energy alternatives
  •  Encourage energy efficiency practices
  • Advocate for improved public transportation alternatives

When you are finished, enter your shared Google folder and locate the “Phase 1 Forms” worksheet located in the Phase 1 folder. Complete the questions under the Phase 1.2 section.

NEXT STEP: Pick Your Project and Set Your Goal

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