(302) 703-7086

Jaci N. James

Sussex Central High School

Environmental Injustice, An Endeavor for Equality

Environmental injustice indicates unfair environmental risks caused to particular groups, such as people of color and communities with low economic status. After some time, people began to speak up about these unfair treatments. Environmental justice is a movement that strives to resolve the issues faced by marginalized groups. It protects those regardless of their ethnicity, nationality, and economic status.

Environmental injustice affects these poor communities because they lack the political power to defend themselves. This results in health hazards for these people because they have higher exposure to toxic waste, air pollution, and polluted water. The environmental justice movement became known to the public during the 1980s when discrimination was at its worst. Protests, justice movements, federal orders, and policies were set into motion to diminish these issues. Despite the years that have passed, this unjust behavior still occurs today.

Numerous individuals and their loved ones have been affected by the impacts of environmental injustice. Unfortunately, my family has been negatively affected by the influences of this mistreatment. My mom and her family come from Honduras, a hot climate country and one of the most impoverished countries in Latin America to date. Due to the low economic status of Honduras, they are considered a food desert and do not have much access to clean drinking water. My family lives in a small village in San Pedro Sula and has access to safe drinking water. Years ago, it was not always like this; due to poverty in Honduras, my mother’s family and several others were not able to access clean water or much food. The water they would get would be contaminated and full of bacteria, leading them to get sick frequently. All this occurred because they lived in a city that faced environmental injustice due to its poor socioeconomic status, as well as several other low-income communities. It limited their access to safe drinking water because of the pollutants. Luckily, the living conditions in Honduras have improved over the years. Most of the population has access to clean water and food, but some still suffer the consequences.

Through census tracts during an environmental equity study, states like Florida, Georgia, and Oregon provided data that proved them to be disproportionate through race and income. Executive orders have been set in place to help with environmental injustice. The government created executive orders 12898 and 14096 to attempt to grant justice for all, especially for the low-income and minority populations. Order 12898 acted as a foundation for order 14096, enhancing the attempts to achieve the objective of environmental equality. Even though the government is addressing these issues with these orders, it is significant for the voices of the marginalized to be heard. Through these executive orders, environmental injustice may become less influential as time passes.

The Department of Energy aims to address environmental injustice. They advise their employees on environmental justice issues and apply those ethics. DOE has collaborated on creating a legal document called the Memorandum of Understanding with federal agents, striving to help communities. They have also constructed energy alternatives, one of them being solar technologies. It reduces the amount of air pollution and the amount of greenhouse gasses, benefiting the health of society and the environment. Solar technology also lowers the average energy price, making it more affordable to low-income communities who may already struggle to pay for electricity. 

The Environmental Protection Agency was founded on July 9, 1970, and aspires to enforce the protection of everyone against environmental health risks; the EPA preserves a healthy environment. The EPA also targets climate change, environmental laws, chemical regulations, and clean water and air. Policies and programs help protect the public’s health, especially the marginalized groups that suffer from environmental injustice. They are crucial to the environmental justice movement. The EPA informs the public about the consequences of environmental injustice while promoting environmental equality and methods on how people can help protect the health of the affected groups.

Adults can teach the youth about methods that can conceivably redress these injustices in Delaware. Even though you think that children so young will not be able to do anything about this injustice in any state, the most diminutive actions can have more of an effect than what people may think. Things they can do to spread awareness about this topic is to create campaigns that promote the use of eco-friendly practices. Teaching children about the three R’s, reduce, reuse, and recycle, can help lower the waste that our community creates. This waste eventually ends up in a landfill, often located near low-income neighborhoods; the more waste sent to these landfills, the more emissions of pollution decrease. Water contamination occurs most commonly because runoff water picks up chemicals from landfills, so less waste would mean less of this water tainting local water sources. Reducing the use of public transport furthermore helps with environmental injustice. Carbon dioxide and methane emissions also tend to increase as the amount of waste burnt increases, contributing to global warming.

The emissions of these dangerous gasses, such as methane, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide, affect people’s health negatively. A high volume of emissions is considered hazardous and linked to higher deaths. With higher exposure to the pollutants, symptoms of asthma, strokes, cardiopulmonary diseases, pneumonia, and other respiratory diseases grow. With enough exposure, it can eventually affect the risk of death. It can also take a toll on mental health, affecting the stress and anxiety that these communities feel.

In conclusion, environmental injustice is a long-time transpiring event, with research on the justice movement dating back to the 1960s. It is unfair and harms our society, especially the groups suffering the most from this mistreatment. It affects these people the same way it may affect the ones you love someday. It is time for people to get more involved in this movement. People should start to make environmentally friendly choices and fight for environmental equality. Though it may seem insignificant, with the help of everyone, it will make a huge difference.

Works Cited

“History » Environmental Justice » Avoice – Congressional Black Caucus Foundation » African American Voices in Congress.” Avoice – Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Accessed 29 February 2024.

“Learn About Environmental Justice | US EPA.” Environmental Protection Agency, 6 February 2024, Accessed 29 February 2024.

“Mapping environmental injustices: pitfalls and potential of geographic information systems in assessing environmental health and.” EHP Publishing, Accessed 29 February 2024.

“What Is Environmental Justice?” Department of Energy, Accessed 29 February 2024.

Yang, Celine. “Q&A: Addressing the Environmental Justice Implications of Waste | Article | EESI.” Environmental and Energy Study Institute, 14 May 2021, Accessed 29 February 2024.

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *