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A Brief Introduction to Environmental Justice in NC
Image by Noah Buscher, from

What happens to the food you cannot eat or compost? When we place food and other items in our trash bins, where does it all go? Unless they can be recycled, most of our discarded items are taken to a landfill. The landfill is a modern facility located near cities and towns intended to manage trash safely and effectively. Most of the time, landfills work well. Unfortunately, that is not true for every landfill in every community. What happens when dangerous items end up in a landfill? 

In 1982, the state of North Carolina made the decision to store and process soil tainted with toxic PCBs (chlorinated hydrocarbons) in a landfill near small African American communities in Warren County. Alerted to the health hazards associated with these chemicals, residents, activists, and lawyers fought against the decision. Some folks lay down across highways to keep soil-laden dump trucks from reaching the landfill. The fight eventually moved from the roads to the courts and the environmental justice movement was born. 

Environmental justice is defined as “the merging of issues of race, color, national origin, or income with issues of development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.  

In his sermon this past Sunday, Pastor Christian reminded us that we are instructed to do justice by loving others and looking out for their welfare. He stated, “agape is a doing word, not just a feeling word.” What does God require of us in Raleigh to help others live happy and healthy lives? It can be as simple as picking up trash in your neighborhood, hiking with a new neighbor, or helping children in Wake County to enjoy the outdoors. Be on the lookout for the opportunities God brings your way to see that environmental justice is done where you live, work, worship, and play. 

For further reading:

Marcia Ostendorff, Spirit of Justice Team