… the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies … It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.
From the EPA website
Environmental justice is an incredibly important issue; with climate change impacted different environments, natural disasters causing serious damage to many communities all over the world, and clean water becoming more scarce, serious and sustainable solutions to environmental issues need to be implemented. Plastic is killing wildlife and completely changing the oceans, especially the Pacific Ocean with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The National Geographic wrote that the Garbage Patch wasn’t really what most people might immediately think:
For many people, the idea of a “garbage patch” conjures up images of an island of trash floating on the ocean. In reality, these patches are almost entirely made up of tiny bits of plastic, called microplastics. Microplastics can’t always be seen by the naked eye. Even satellite imagery doesn’t show a giant patch of garbage. The microplastics of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch can simply make the water look like a cloudy soup. This soup is intermixed with larger items, such as fishing gear and shoes.The seafloor beneath the Great Pacific Garbage Patch may also be an underwater trash heap. Oceanographers and ecologists recently discovered that about 70% of marine debris actually sinks to the bottom of the ocean.
I just saw (and recommend seeing) the documentary Plastic Paradise, which covers the history of manufacturing plastic, the forces behind them, and the impact that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is having on the ocean and wildlife within it. Animals are eating the plastic and dying because of the trash put there by humans.
Growing forests and farms in sustainable ways can also help stop desertification and deforestation happening around the world. Yacouba Sawadogo has done amazing work in northern Burkina Faso since 1980 by reviving an old African technique called zai and has revived acres and acres of forest with numerous species of trees.
Other environmental justice issues include:
- Air – pollution, greenhouse gases, acid rain
- Climate Change
- Emergencies – natural disasters, hazardous substances spills
- Land and clean ups – super funds, brown fields, landfills
- Pesticides, chemicals, toxics
- Waste – garbage, hazardous waste
- Water – wetlands, oceans, estuaries, watersheds, drinking water
- Energy – oil, coal, etc
In a photography series titled “Futuristic Archaeology,” Daesung Lee captured the impending desertification of Mongolia. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy ranked the 10 best and 10 worst states in the US for clean energy last October. Andy Keller, an environmental activist, created the Bag Monster – a monster completely made of the single use plastic shopping bags – to highlight the waste and damages that come from those bags.
Other advocacy approaches include:
- Political and legal channels
- Political advocacy
- Electoral politics (voting)
- Direct Appeal to the public
- Public education
- Direct action
- Media events
- Community organizing
Combining the words ecology and feminism, ecofeminism embraces the idea that the oppression of women and the oppression or destruction of nature are closely connected. Elements of the feminist movement, the peace movement and the environmentalist and green movements can be seen in ecofeminism.
Winifred Fordham Metz
Environmental justice and feminism are two philosophies that in my opinion, should often go hand in hand and ecofeminism is that center between the two. Offering women around the world access to birth control/family planning, education, and jobs can help lower the global population/large family sizes and climate change. Women are also a big number of farmers and agricultural workers, especially in developing countries, but own only a fraction of the land and wealth.
Some resources include:
- Women and Life on Earth
- The Green Fuse: Ecofeminism
- How Ecofeminism Works – How Stuff Works
- What is Eco-Feminism? – Everyday Feminism
And it’s of course important to see the racist and capitalist nature behind the driving forces destroying the earth. People of color are often disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards, often described as environmental racism. Greed from corporations raking in millions and billions of dollars also creates an industry that causes significant landfill waste and damage to the environment.
I could easily continue to rant and rant about environmental issues and will write more in the future. But for now, I’ll leave it here with the motto: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.