An Introduction to Environmental Justice

As environmental activists push for changes to our water, land, and habitat laws, it is important to also keep note of how environmental burdens and benefits affect humans as well! One example that is becoming more relevant is the idea of a just transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy. Although we know that calls to curb climate change require a switch from fossil fuel producing resources, we also know that many, many people earn their livelihoods from fossil fuel extraction and production and cannot be left out in the cold if one day their jobs disappear. The idea behind a just transition is to ensure that those communities most affected by a transition away from fossil fuels are supported. This support is just one more recent example of the importance of environmental justice. 

Environmental justice is the idea that all people should have equal access to environmental benefits and no community should have to bear environmental burdens, such as exposure to toxins, more than any other. Unsurprisingly, environmental burdens have historically affected minority and low income communities more and the theory of environmental justice attempts to bring attention to this problem and start to solve it. Use this section to wrap your brain around the idea of environmental justice and learn how to apply it to every day stories. This may be a good section to review before moving on to some of the topical sections such as toxins and waste because it will help to frame the rest of your studies. Start with the links on the left hand side, and as you complete each sub-topic, you will follow the links at the bottom of each page (or the links on the left hand side) to the next topic in order.


  • Lesson plans are designed to be used in conjunction (and often after) spending time on the website content itself. They are adaptable and can be used in their entirety or parts of each can be drawn on to create content appropriate for your grade level and curriculum.


  • The website content and lesson plans can be completed in groups or on your own to expand your thinking. Make sure to check back with the website content if you have any questions or aren’t sure how to finish.

Additional Resources

  • Don’t forget that you can always look to our Resources page for some other websites and sources of information both to help with the lesson plans and to expand your knowledge even further!


 Environmental Justice and Environmental Racism >>