Over the past month, we shifted our Plastic Free July focus from ways to reduce single-use plastic waste every day to supporting and highlighting the work around environmental justice, specifically around plastics. Below is a recap of all that we have covered this month and how you can advocate for environmental justice for all.
The plastic pollution problem is most often thought of saving the oceans, wildlife and the planet from all of the plastic waste we toss out. But there is more to plastic pollution than that. The pollution from plastic starts long before single-use plastic products ever reach the oceans. We must also look to plastic production and how it is polluting the air we breathe and the water we drink. And it is disproportionately affecting communities of color.
We shared with you the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and Rise St. James and their fight against the Formosa Plastics plant in Louisiana. Update: Formosa Plastics agreed late last week “to limit its construction activities until early next year, under a legal agreement reached with several community and environmental organizations who had filed a lawsuit last week. Major construction activities at the site will not move forward until February 2021.” Woohoo! This will provide some time for the environmental organizations fighting against the plastics plant to focus on the deeply flawed approval process through additional lawsuits.
We also told you about t.e.j.a.s. and their fight for environmental justice in Texas. The communities in and around Houston where petrochemical facilities exist are predominately communities of color and are some of the most polluted areas in America. Studies have found increased rates of COVID-19 in areas of elevated air pollution and individuals living in areas of high particulate pollution are 15% more likely to die from COVID-19.
We shared how voting matters. One of the best ways we can effect change is through voting, in each and every election. Voting gives power to the people and allows us to hold our leaders accountable. Local, state and federal elections can make a huge difference in our lives and the environment. Be sure you’re registered, get politically engaged and make your voice heard! Vote at the ballot. Vote with your wallet. Vote for environmental progress and environmental justice.
Another update: Today, Senator Kamala Harris plans to introduce a companion bill in the Senate to the Environmental Justice for All Act introduced earlier this year in the House of Representatives. Contact your Senators today to let them know you support this necessary and important legislation!
“Environmental justice is interconnected with every aspect of our fight for justice. From racial justice and economic justice, to housing justice and educational justice, we cannot disentangle the environment people live in from the lives they live,” Harris told Grist in an email. “These crises we are experiencing have exposed injustices in our nation that many of us have known and fought our entire lives.”
We also shared organizations that are taking the fight to the courts, as the fight for environmental justice extends beyond the picket lines and protests. These organizations are working to make sure that our laws and policies protect, preserve, and promote environmental justice for people and planet. They are working to change the legal systems and prevent companies from dumping toxic waste in the air and water in communities predominately populated by BIPOC.
Do the work.
Yes, we must all do our best to reduce our own use of single-use plastics. Throughout our blog and Instagram feed we are constantly sharing many ideas and tips on how you can do this. But, it’s not enough. As environmental activists, we must recognize that environmental and climate justice can not come without social justice. We cannot solve the climate crisis without first addressing inequality. We must do more. We must fight against corporate polluters. We must vote and elect leaders who believe in environmental justice for all. We must amplify the voices that are educating us on environmental racism. We must continue to learn more and do more to fight for a better environment for everyone.