If you typically don't have to worry about the water or air quality where you live, you are very fortunate. Low-income communities of color face the greatest risks from environmental hazards, as they are more likely to live close to industrial facilities and freeways (trucks and cars account for much of the air pollution in the US) and be exposed to more air pollution and environmental stressors.
Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people – regardless of race, ethnicity, income, or education level – in environmental decision-making.
Contra Costa residents in underserved neighborhoods face multiple barriers to food security, safe and affordable housing, and meaningful employment. These barriers and burdens will only grow more challenging as the effects of global warming unfold. While climate change affects everyone, it disproportionately hurts those with the fewest resources.
Here are some local organizations doing great work:
- Communities for a Better Environment provides residents in blighted, heavily polluted communities in CA with organizing skills, leadership training and legal, scientific and technical assistance, so they can confront threats to their health and well-being.
- The Greenlining Institute is a policy, research, organizing and leadership institute, focusing on the emerging green economy in order to make sure that communities of color not only have a clean environment, but also benefit from the economic opportunities made possible by environmental efforts.
- Asian Pacific Environmental Network is a very active, local group building and expanding a powerful base of low income API immigrant and refugee communities fighting for their right to a clean and healthy environment in which their communities can live, work, learn, play and thrive.
- Pesticide Action Network works to create a just, thriving food system. For too long, pesticide and biotech corporations have dictated how we grow food, placing the health and economic burdens of pesticide use on farmers, farmworkers and rural communities.
- Urban Tilth cultivates agriculture in west Contra Costa County to help build a more sustainable, healthy, and just food system. They hire and train residents to work with schools, community-based organizations, government agencies, businesses, and individuals to create a more equitable and just food system within a healthier and more self-sufficient community.
An additional interesting read - a brief history
of environmental justice activities in Richmond, CA.