The environment plays a strong role in determining our health, opportunities and quality of life. Some impacts are negative, such as proximity to environmental hazards and pollutants: essentially a pollution burden. Some impacts are positive, such as access to parks, coastlines and open space: essentially an amenity benefit.
Environmental equity is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies (US EPA).
Environmental racism is the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color. One example, among many, is air pollution: a 2018 study of air pollution (specifically, particulate matter) found that Black communities are exposed to over 1.5 times more sooty air (particulates) than the general population. (American Journal of Public Health).
At SoundWaters, we believe that
living in a healthy community is a basic human right.
We work for environmental justice in three ways:
- Access. Long Island Sound is the greatest natural resource in our region, and yet it has a high barrier to entry. Through fundraising, scholarships and a deep commitment, SoundWaters programs are open to all. Our team specifically reaches out to schools, parents and partners to ensure that every child in our region can study, explore and thrive through experiences in the Sound.
- Teaching. In our high school programs, we engage students in learning about environmental justice locally, nationally and globally. We frame the environment through a justice lens and train students, through studies and investigations, to understand how the burdens and benefits of the environment are distributed.
- Internal Commitment. SoundWaters believes that Black lives matter. For over 30 years, SoundWaters has been dedicated to protecting Long Island Sound through education, guided by relationships built on shared values and trust that include community, school, business, and political leaders. But we know that this is not enough. As an organization we know that we can do better and we must do better. We commit to listening, learning, and acting.