Equity and the Environment

This week I wanted to spend a little time talking about equity and the environment. There’s a lot going on in the world right now and it’s important to remember that everything is interconnected.

The environmental movement is not solely about protecting our natural world. It’s also about protecting each other. Marginalized communities are more likely to be impacted by environmental degradation, which puts their health and safety at risk. When environmental policies and programs are created, they must be equitable as some parts of the community may require more assistance than others. Unfortunately, we are still encountering a vast amount of environmental injustice. Equity is not an “add-on” when it comes to environmental policies, it should be a requirement.

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Countless studies have shown that communities of color and low-income communities are disproportionately exposed to air pollution. These communities encounter more air pollution from sources including vehicle emissions, industrial sites and factories. Communities located near agricultural practices often suffer from significant water pollution due to agricultural run-off. Food deserts make it difficult to access healthy and affordable food. Poor public transportation infrastructure makes it difficult for low-come individuals to travel if they don’t have access to a car. The list goes on and on.

The Trump Administration intends to reverse about 100 environmental rules. Check out this active article managed by the New York Times to better understand what these rollbacks are and the status of these environmental rollbacks. The New York Times categorized the proposed rollbacks into the seven topics as shown in the table below.

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Source: New York Times

Building electrification is important because natural gas contributes to indoor air pollution. Electric vehicles are important because they reduces air pollution in heavy traffic areas. Organic farming is important because pesticides contaminate nearby bodies of water through agricultural run-off. Efficient public transportation infrastructure is important so that people feel safe when taking the bus, riding their bikes and walking. Farmers’ Markets are important because they give communities access to affordable, organic produce. Oftentimes Farmers’ Markets have great programs for those who rely on food stamps. For example, you can order a farm-to-table box of full of organic, seasonal produce for half the price. Also, some markets match every dollar you spend, so if you take out $10 and they gave you $20 worth of tokens to use at the market.

Advocating for sustainability is directly related to public health and safety. We are a community and we must work together to create a healthy home for everyone. I just barely scratched the surface of this topic and encourage you to keep learning. The New York Times created a nice page called “Read Up on the Links Between Racism and the Environment” which provides articles, essays and books that relate to climate change and social inequities.

Transitioning to a sustainable lifestyle is not easy or cheap. I try my best to live as sustainably as possible, but my ecological footprint isn’t as low as I would want it to be because this transition can be expensive. That’s why I decided to create this blog a few years ago. I took a little break from writing because I was working to finish my graduate program, but I’m excited to be back. Stay tuned because there’s a lot more to come!

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