By Grace Lesser, Program Assistant,
National Women's Law Center
Today marks Earth Day, a day created 40 years ago to bring attention to the state of our planet and the ways in which we interact with the environment. When Earth Day was created, people were worried about our unsustainable lifestyles, our use of nonrenewable resources, and the repercussions of our actions that would affect us for generations to come.
40 years later, people are still worried about the planet but Earth Day has grown and expanded to encompass more than ever before. It strives to advance climate policy, energy efficiency, renewable energy and green jobs. It encourages millions of people to make personal changes and take steps towards greater sustainability. It works to connect individuals, communities, corporations, and cities to build green economies.
And our understanding of Earth Day issues has evolved as well: we now recognize that true awareness of environmental issues is broader than just personal decisions. Environmental awareness intersects with Environmental Justice, which in turn is connected to Reproductive Justice. Environmental Justice seeks to address social injustices that give rise to environmental burdens, such as exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace and in consumer products, or hazardous waste pollution near economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.
These are burdens that primarily affect People of Color, women, and indigenous communities, and both Environmental and Reproductive Justice work to ensure that all people have the economic, social, and political power to make healthy decisions about their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction. And so when you recognize Earth Day today by turning off a few extra lights or biking to work today, consider too the broader implications of your environmental awareness. If you care about Earth Day and environmental justice, you should also care about reproductive justice.