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Vibrant Environment

Single-Use Plastic Bans Bring Unintended Consequences for People Experiencing Homelessness and Developing Countries

Cynthia Harris
Wednesday, August 28, 2019

First plastic bags, then straws, and now . . . miniature toiletries.

In a world where half the plastic produced globally is packaging we use just once, and only nine percent of all plastic is recycled, a consumer tide against single-use plastics is sweeping up grocery retailers, restaurants, and now the hospitality industry.

New U.S. EPA Rule Change Would Inhibit Citizens From Filing Environmental Claims

Shehla Chowdhury
Monday, August 19, 2019

Last month, the New York Times reported that the Trump Administration began drafting a new rule that could eviscerate one of the most powerful tools available to U.S. citizens to hold the government accountable for environmental harm. The new rule, if finalized, would prevent concerned citizens from filing cases with the U.S. EPA Environmental Appeals Board (EAB), as well as inherently change EPA’s appeals process and undermine enforcement of environmental law throughout the country.

Transboundary Haze in Southeast Asia: The 2015 Fires Were Only the Beginning

Anna Beeman
Wednesday, August 14, 2019

In the last two weeks, Indonesian islands Sumatra and Borneo began experiencing severe forest fires, evoking fears within the region that the fires could have similar effects to the fires of 2015, which was one of the worst years for transboundary haze in Southeast Asia. Following the 2015 fires, Indonesia took steps to limit the burning and draining of peatland to reduce the outbreak of fires in addition to improving environmental sustainability and air quality in the region. However, due to a combination of governance challenges and climate change-intensifying dry seasons, the country has struggled to keep up with implementing fire mitigating activities in all fire-prone areas.

Companies and Communities: Environmental Justice as an Effective and Proactive Business Practice

Benjamin F. Wilson
Friday, August 2, 2019

In recent months, the long-standing environmental justice (EJ) movement—which began with the civil rights movement—has gained new momentum. EJ refers to 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.” As natural disasters ravage minority, low-income communities, global climate justice campaigns demand equitable solutions, and members of Congress underscore the importance of ensuring environmental protection for our most vulnerable communities, EJ principles are given a leading role in the conversation about environmental policy.

A City Under Siege: Unraveling the Glaring Link Between Environmental Degradation and Sociopolitical Turbulence

Anthony D'Souza
Monday, July 29, 2019

Much of the media concerning climate change have direly emphasized that its most horrendous effects will be borne by some of the world’s most impoverished developing cities, with coastal settlements on the front lines of this siege. Yet, most of these headline-grabbing pieces rarely explore the true complexity of these issues beyond mere sea-level rise and a few other similarly visible or tangible environmental problems. This blog aims to briefly outline the deeper extent of crises threatening these cities by further examining an experience of one particular city. A city where the ravages of global warming are more than just dire warnings—but a clear and present burden on its overwhelmingly underprivileged citizens every day. A city that offers perhaps one of the most holistic case studies to examine the entangled causality between environmental and social issues wrought by climate change. My hometown, Karachi, Pakistan.

Bridging the Gulf: Environmental Justice and Spill Restoration

Lovinia Reynolds
Wednesday, July 24, 2019

In honor of the Environmental Law Institute’s 50th Anniversary Year, each month of 2019 highlights a different key theme that represents an important aspect of our work. July is focused on environmental justice, a movement and a concept that encompasses efforts to highlight the disproportionately harmful environmental impacts experienced by vulnerable communities, as well as a commitment to ensuring justice for all people. The growing effort to identify environmental justice concerns and to develop solutions for communities closely aligns with ELI’s mission to make law work for people, places, and the planet, including through our work in the Gulf of Mexico region.

California DTSC's Efforts to Address the Segregation of Pollution

Davina Pujari
Cole A. Benbow
Friday, July 19, 2019

The mission of California's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is to "protect California's people and environment from harmful effects of toxic substances by restoring contaminated resources, enforcing hazardous waste laws, reducing hazardous waste generation, and encouraging the manufacture of chemically safer products." But, like any critical mission, its success depends on sufficient funding. And, to the detriment of the vulnerable communities it is charged with protecting, the Department is in the midst of dealing with a budget shortfall that will handicap its ability to reduce the amount of hazardous waste generated in California—hazardous waste that disproportionately impacts low-income and minority communities. 

EJ Perspectives From Barry E. Hill

Barry E. Hill
Anthony D'Souza
Lovinia Reynolds
Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Throughout the month of July, ELI is taking a closer look at “Environmental Justice & Vulnerable Communities” as we continue to offer special events, programs, and publications in commemoration of our 50th Anniversary. As part of this month-long introspection into our work in environmental justice, Research Associate Lovinia Reynolds and Research and Publications Intern Anthony D’Souza reached out to Barry E. Hill, ELI Visiting Scholar and Adjunct Law Professor at Vermont Law School. Prior to coming to ELI, Professor Hill was the Senior Counsel for Environmental Governance at EPA’s Office of International and Tribal Affairs. From 1998 to 2007, he was Director of EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. Below are Professor Hill’s thoughts and perspectives, as an environmental justice advocate, on environmental justice in the United States.

How Sustainability Efforts and Women’s Advancement Globally Can—and Must—Go Hand-in-Hand

Cindy Starrett
Kristina Wyatt
Jennifer Roy
Samantha Seikkula
Melanie Hess
Friday, June 28, 2019

Climate change threatens to dramatically increase inequality and create greater hardships for women and girls, in large part because of their disproportionately vulnerable economic, social, and political positions worldwide. Food shortages disproportionately affect the health of women and girls, and in many regions, women are more directly dependent on natural resources threatened by climate change for their livelihoods. For instance, a U.N. report observed that in developing countries, women account for 45-80% of all food production, and about two-thirds of the female labor force is engaged in agricultural work. In such developing regions, women face unique vulnerabilities from the increasing unpredictability of food sources as well as the loss of income or jobs if agricultural resources are impacted by climate change.

Fast Fashion: Cutting Corners to Fuel Excessive Consumption

Kashaf Momin
Kaveri Marathe
Wednesday, June 26, 2019

When’s the last time you found yourself idly shopping out of boredom or buying a shirt just because it was on sale? If it was in the last week, then you’re not alone. The average American shopper buys 60% more clothing today than they did just 15 years ago, but keeps it for only half as long. At the end of the year, this results in approximately 80 pounds of unwanted clothing per person!

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