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What Is Environmental Justice & Why Is It Important?

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How to Educate Yourself on Environmental Justice and Connect with Your Local Community

I’m Kristy Drutman, a.k.a. Brown Girl Green, an environmental media host and a Society and Environment graduate of U.C. Berkeley. Brown Girl Green is a platform focused on making sustainability more accessible, especially among diverse, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities. I joined forces with Eva NYC to break down what environmental justice is and how you can get more involved in your local community.

Girl with curly hair smiling photographed in a brown field

Photo credit to Chloe Jackman Photos/TONLE design 

What is environmental justice?  

Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income   in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Essentially, it means that all people deserve access to clean air, water, food and soil.  

The reality is, many communities, especially minority communities, don’t have equal access to these resources. There are many reasons for this, which can be summed up by the term “environmental racism.This includes any policies or practices that put diverse communities, particularly people of color, at a disadvantage in their access to a healthy environment (for example, clean drinking water, nutritious food, or access to green spaces like public parks). 

In fact, BIPOC communities across the US are often exposed to polluting factories, fossil fuel drilling and mining sites, toxic bodies of water, and more. It is becoming more and more apparent that poor communities and non-white communities are getting exposed to toxic facilities which are used to service wealthier communities.  

In short, this is not okay. No community should have to fight for access to basic human necessities like food, air, and water.  

I’m proud to partner with Eva NYC, a company that is using their platform to support environmental justice. When you purchase one of their amazing “Recycling is Beautiful” tote bags, they’ll donate $14 to an eco-justice charity of your choice: 

 We need more companies to step up like this to directly help provide the financial support and platforms to uplift the work of environmental justice advocates.

How can each of us promote environmental justice? 

  • Start by using EJ Screen to learn about environmental injustice happening in your community:  
  • Research and find a local environmental justice organization in your neighborhood to support 
  • Donate and amplify the work of grassroots environmental justice organizers and organizations 
  • Listen and learn from scholars, content creators, and scientists studying and teaching about this issue
Cover Image of flowers titled Responsible Consumerism by Kristy’s Brown Girl Green Podcast

What can I read or listen to if I want to learn more? 

This is our time to continue to uplift BIPOC voices, and to educate and follow the lead of many environmental justice organizers and leaders who are shifting the narrative around environmental advocacy in this country. It all starts with us acknowledging the reality of this situation and committing to take action.   

If you want to learn more, check out my podcast about environmental racism.  

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