(un)Just Sustainabilities online Exhibit

This online exhibit for Professor Heather Bedi’s Environmental and Social Justice class allows Dickinson College students to reflect on environmental injustices and demographic trends in their neighborhood, town, city, or state. In defining just sustainabilities, Agyeman et al. (2003) argue that social and economic inequalities across place exacerbate environmental injustices. They advocate for human equality to be central in sustainability efforts. Students explore (un) just sustainabilities in their place through a paper and a publicly exhibited zero-waste visual or audio project.

Toxic Release Sites in Philadelphia: Unjust Housing Segregation along the Delaware River

Philadelphia is a city that is home not only to a variety of people, but also a variety of industries producing all sorts of waste. One major environmental problem that is occurring in Philadelphia is toxic chemical release into the surrounding environment. As is often the case, a popular place to dump waste throughout America is within waterways for its convenience of taking the unwanted, hazardous material away from the production site (Wolters, 2019). Many of the EPA Toxic Release Inventory Sites in the city are located in close proximity to the Delaware River, especially the portion dividing Philadelphia and Camden, NJ (EPA, 2020). These chemical discharges are creating major health concerns, primarily causing adverse pregnancy outcomes and increasing the chance for children under the age of 5 of developing brain cancer, both of which can ultimately be fatal (Brendar et al, 2011). While even the slightest chemical exposure can be detrimental, the communities along the river are disproportionately impacted. Many studies have determined that in Philadelphia, those communities are minority groups, such as low income, people of color who have a high school diploma on average (U.S. Census, 2019). As the released chemicals are found in the air, water, and eventually soil, it is very easy for people in close vicinity of toxic release sites to be exposed to these toxins (Wolters, 2019). While the results are surprising, redlining and housing injustice in Philadelphia follows a historical pattern and consequences will be felt well into the future (Rhynhart, 2019; Wing et al, 2018). Based on evidence found and presented, the management of toxic chemical release is not environmentally sustainable and is inequitable because minorities are those who really bear the disproportional weight of its consequences.Infograph


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