Environmental Justice Organizations
By Suzy González
May 16th, 2023
Environmental Racism occurs when Black, Indigenous, communities of color, and low-income communities are disproportionately affected by pollution and contamination of air, soil, and water. Pollutant examples are landfills, trash incinerators, coal plants, toxic waste dumps, animal agriculture, and military bases. This is also connected to food apartheid or the systematic lack of access to healthy or culturally appropriate foods in our neighborhoods.
Environmental Justice activists work to protect environmental issues as they intersect with environmental racism and human rights. As our communities struggle with clean water to drink, air to breathe, and continued climate disasters from hurricanes to fires to drought, these community-led organizations are making moves to protect culture, humanity, animals, and our sacred lands.
Black Millennials For Flint
Get involved: https://www.blackmillennials4flint.org/
Seven years after Flint, Michigan’s water source was switched to sources poisoned with lead, there’s still a long way to go to ensure that the water is safe for all to drink.
Black Millennials For Flint brings organizations together to “collectively take action and advocate against the crisis of lead exposure specifically in African American & Latinx communities.”
California Environmental Justice Alliance
Get involved: https://caleja.org/
California Environmental Justice Alliance is “tired of an energy system that leaves our communities sick and struggling to breathe.” Their Green Zones Initiative works with “community-led solutions to transform areas overburdened by pollution into healthy and thriving neighborhoods.”
Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living
Get involved: https://chesterpaej.org/
The nation’s largest trash incinerator, among other polluting industries, is located in Chester, Pennsylvania, where pollution from its burning contributes to asthma, cancer, and other health issues for those in the region. Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living (CRCQL or “circle”) has been leading their grassroots environmental justice movement for clean air in Chester City, PA, and Delaware County since 1992.
Get involved: https://gaspgroup.org/
Many residents of Birmingham, Alabama suffer from air pollution from smokestacks and chemicals as a result of railroads and heavy industry, as can be seen in the free online film Toxic City: Birmingham’s Dirty Secret. The mission of Gasp (Greater-Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution) is “to advance healthy air and environmental justice in the Greater-Birmingham area through education, advocacy, and collaboration.” Gasp defines Environmental Justice as “the principle that everyone…is entitled to a safe, healthy place to live, work, learn, pray, and play.”
Indigenous Environmental Network
Get involved: https://www.ienearth.org/
Indigenous Environmental Network was formed in 1990 by grassroots Indigenous peoples “to address environmental and economic justice issues…to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, [and the] health of both our people and all living things…” Their work with Indigenous communities in North America and globally spans a multitude of environmental issues, such as working to shut down harmful pipelines, including the successful termination of the Keystone XL project.
Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project
Get Involved: https://www.nuestra-tierra.org/
Nuestra Tierra provides conservation and outdoor recreation to Latinx borderland community members in southern New Mexico and Castner Range in El Paso, Texas. They are leading the fight for the protection of Apacheria, where border militarization displaces wildlife and destroys natural landscapes. Nuestra Tierra is also working to make the beloved Castner Range a National Monument to protect its “prehistoric significance, critical endangered species’ habitats, and opportunities for outdoor recreation.”
Get involved: https://alignny.org/
ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York, “works at the intersection of economy, environment, and equity to make change and build movement,” and fight for a green energy economy. They unite labor, environmental justice, and community advocates to organize New York’s “Transform Don’t Trash” campaign, aiming to “reduce pollution [and] foster cleaner and healthier communities for all New Yorkers.”
Get involved: https://soilgeneration.org/
A coalition of Black & Brown women farmers and organizers, Soil Generation works to address food and land security in Philadelphia, PA with values rooted in racial justice and anti-capitalism. They’ve created Philadelphia’s Urban Agriculture Plan: Growing from the Root, which draws from “a history of agricultural practices that are rooted in African American, immigrant, and refugee communities that have been nurtured across the City by residents for generations.”
Southwest Workers Union
Get involved: https://www.swunion.org/
Southwest Workers Union is “an organization of low-income, working-class families and youth uniting in one collective struggle for self-governance based on dignity, respect, justice, and liberation” in San Antonio, TX. In addition to their community garden, SWU has defeated “proposed industrial projects that would further pollute low-income residential neighborhoods.” Their voices were vital in CPS Energy’s recent commitment to transition away from coal, and they continue to advocate for a fossil-fuel-free future.
Sites listed per organization