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Finnigan Carroll

Posted on June 19, 2022 at 6:44 pm

Finnigan Carroll

Delaware, being one of the most polluted states in the United States, is home to communities that have experienced environmental injustices in many ways. Communities of color, in particular, have been all too largely affected by environmental injustice, primarily due to a lack of resources to fight back against these injustices, whether politically, financially, or otherwise. This lack of resources mainly stems from racism displayed throughout history. Delaware has been known as being host to many chemical companies, such as DuPont, which has inadvertently or not polluted the environments where people live. It is extremely important, especially for one of the former major chemical producing regions of the United States, if not the world, to recognize the problems that environmental injustices cause and to find solutions to such problems.

To understand environmental injustice on a fundamental level, a good example could be plastic exports. When countries with enormous sums of plastic, such as the United States, do not exactly know where to put all of the contaminated and therefore unrecyclable plastics, exporting it may have seemed to be a viable option. While this option seemed viable for the United States, it was in the long run not viable for the countries receiving the plastics, and so plastic import bans were introduced. A plethora of damage had already been done, however, and island along with coastal countries were devastated by the sheer amount of plastic being forced into the lives of communities living there, with the plastic contaminating watersheds along with massive areas of land. The Philippines is an example of an island country in the Pacific damaged by the plastic showing up within their communities. Rising sea levels from melting ice certainly do not help this issue, as this only ravages these Pacific countries even more. Organizations are helping to reduce the amount of plastic in the Pacific, especially in concentrated areas. This helps to reduce the damage that Pacific countries and countries all over the world experience from plastic, but only somewhat. The root of environmental injustices is extremely important to understand, for corporations and even governments will have to find real, genuine solutions instead of taking advantage of certain communities in order for any real justice to be achieved. Racism, in its own way, has led to environmental racism, which is a subcategory of environmental injustice. During waves of immigration from other countries to the United States, and when African Americans and Black individuals moved to northern cities from the South, many White individuals fled these northern cities primarily due to xenophobia and racist fears. Workers, especially city workers, were taken advantage of during the Industrial Revolution, and many cities were left with underserved communities that were racially diverse. Many examples of environmental injustices can be viewed within cities and urban areas. Plastic pollution and littering are profound examples that can be noticed throughout the streets of many cities across the world. Not only do some corporations pollute areas with plastic, but individuals may also tend to do so as well.

Water pollution is another large issue within cities, and corporations are highly responsible for this as well. Wilmington, Delaware, for instance, is home to two very polluted rivers, both the Brandywine River and the Christina River. Transportation also causes high levels of pollution within many cities, depending on the transportation systems in place. Overall, cities experience high levels of environmental injustice and many people living within cities have limited resources to fight back against these injustices, whether due to socioeconomic constructs or otherwise.

Additionally, environmental justice would benefit from being prominent within climate activism in Delaware. Mainly, this is due to the history of Delaware and also to the effects of pollution from earlier times that Delaware still faces today. A large variety of waterways within Delaware are heavily contaminated, which affects not only cities with running waterways, but also nature as a whole and the sources of these waterways. It is not to say that nothing is being done about environmental injustices in Delaware, for in fact, more is being done now than perhaps ever was done. However, when people are negatively affected by environmental pollution and injustice on a day-to-day basis, a clear and definite solution does not appear to have been reached.

I have lived in Delaware for all of my life. I have seen environmental injustices whether in the polluted and littered streets of cities or in the many waterways that flow throughout the state. I may not have been directly affected by any environmental injustices, yet I still witness these issues on most days. As such, environmental injustice leads to varying levels of discrimination, whether geographically or socioeconomically. When corporations, and even occasionally governments, lead to certain people living at disproportionately lower standards than others, whether indirectly or directly, I feel that there is always something to be done, something to advocate for, until a stronger equity is achieved.


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