Leave No Footprints

This weeks blog post is from Nick S., a Drummers and Bass alumni! He writes about his research on Environmental Justice, and the ways that we can work to cut down our environmental footprint. 

Nick S.

The issue of Environmental Justice is prevalent and affects everyone. If change is going to happen, a paradigm shift is imperative. Everyone deserves clean air, water, and a healthy place to live, but low income and minority families often face the brunt of environmental issues. What’s impacting these communities today will eventually impact everyone. If you want to know what global warming will do, look at these communities.

Oil Rig

Going into this project, I already knew a bit about Environmental Justice however, I was floored by the magnitude and scope of the issue. Three environmental organizations released a study in 2016 on the demographics of the 134 million U.S. residents living with the danger or “vulnerability” zones of 3,433 chemical facilities, and the 3.8 million living with the “fenceline” zones closest to potential harm, with the least time to react in the event of a catastrophe.

These statistics prove that this issue is serious, we need to take action. Society tends to isolate or devalue others, we think “it’ll happen to them, not me”. This attitude of apathy is part of the issue as it not only degrades others, but it makes us feel better. We aren’t held accountable so our actions are acceptable. Instead of trying to find solutions to the issue, we dump it on the communities who don’t have the wealth, education, and protection to fight this burden. They are like the canary in the coal mine, sacrifices for our wasteful society.

If anything is going to happen, education and cooperation is essential. Economic degradation begets environmental degradation, which begets social degradation. Revitalization of these communities is needed. Most of the corporations are already established in poor communities and moving them isn’t the best solution. The real question is, how can we keep them around in a clean and responsible way? We need the jobs after all, and we need electricity, and to have our food delivered. The best way to accomplish these goals is to talk to them. Many people in these corporations want to help if you give them the right opportunity. Some companies just don’t care for whatever reason. One woman who is helping resolve this issue in New York City found a solution: “we purchased stock in one of our uncooperative local polluters and launched a shareholder action to study the pollutants they were putting into our community. This exposed them to potential liability and risk—which shareholders don’t like. After over a decade of being ignored, we suddenly had top executives flying in from Texas to meet with us”.

This issue is important for students to learn about as well, for they can help too. The fast fashion industry is incredibly destructive to our planet’s wellbeing in its use of chemicals, poor labor practices, and overuse of resources. Denim is one of the dirtiest industries, so by consuming clean denim you take an important step in keeping our planet clean! Look for brands that produce ethically and sustainably–usually this looks like using good materials, ethical practices, and long-lasting items. Minimalism is a practice of doing more with less. In practicing minimalism, we learn to consume and want less. By consuming less stuff, we use less resources and don’t pollute the earth with our unwanted products. Minimalism can seem really challenging in our consumption-filled lives but purchasing high quality items that last a long time can be equally satisfying. Another way one can help fight injustice, is traveling greener. By using public transportation, or less emission-intensive modes of transportation like carpooling or bicycling, we can reduce emissions. One of the biggest threats to the environment is emissions! By biking, taking the subway, or even carpooling with friends and family, we can pollute less.

Solutions to this issue are very possible, so why don’t we do our part and help our fellow citizens?

Bottle photo credit: Heather Kolaya-Spealman, via Flickr Creative Commons. You can view the original post by clicking here.

Cover photo credit: Michelle Rivera, via Flickr Creative Commons. You can view the original post by clicking here.