Environmental Justice

6, 7, 8
Keywords & Concepts: 

Young people learn about environmental stewardship and its importance to all people. They carry out a service project that demonstrates environmental stewardship.

PrintOne 45 Minute Session

The learner will:

  • research facts and stories about environmental stewardship and environmental justice. 
  • take action and promote the importance of environmental justice.
  • service: to provide a community or organization with something that it needs
  • donate: to give or present something, especially to a charitable organization or other good cause
  • environment: the natural world, within which people, animals, and plants live.
  • justice: fairness or reasonableness, especially in the way people are treated or decisions are made


  1. Define Environmental Justice as the conditions in which everyone, of all races and economic statuses, is able to live and work in a safe and clean environment.

    Environmental injustice occurs when certain groups carry a greater share of environmental risks and hazards and lack the power to influence decisions about the environment. This includes dumping in hazardous waste sites, landfills, and incinerators in communities with large minority and poor populations. Environmental injustice can also exist on an international scale. A major form of injustice occurs when developed countries produce dangerous chemicals and export them to developing countries with relaxed environmental laws.

  2. Read a variety of resources to identify reliable facts and stories about the climate crisis and environmental justice. These questions can help facilitate discussion.

    • Describe the climate crisis and how it came to be.
    • In what ways are some populations more impacted than others by damaging environmental practices?
    • What impact can youth like Greta Thunberg have on environmental policies?
    • What are some examples of environmental injustice in your own community? What are some steps you can take to combat this injustice?
    • What can anyone do to raise awareness of injustice or take action to reverse environmental damage?
  3. Example 1: On May 17, 2005, French aircraft carrier Clemenceau returned to France after being prohibited from entering a shipyard in India. Earlier in the year, a French shipping agency had signed a deal with the French navy to remove asbestos material from the ship before it could be sold. The shipping company claimed to remove all but 45 tons of asbestos. However, further investigation by various environmental groups found that between 500 and 1000 tons of asbestos remained in the ship. When the Indian government refused to allow the ship to dock, due to a lack of clear documentation about its toxic contents, the French President was forced to recall the ship back to France.

    Example 2: The poor, rural, rice-growing community of Guiyu in China has been transformed into a booming electronic waste processing center. Laborers at an electronic waste disposal site regularly burn circuit boards and plastics from old computers. They pour acid on electronic parts to extract silver, gold and other valuable metals. According to reports, nearly 80 percent of the children in Guiyu suffer from lead poisoning.

  4. Remind youth that in learning about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., they learned about how one person can make a difference through service. It is everyone’s responsibility to help address global issues. Just as Dr. King and Greta Thunberg have demonstrated their dedication to helping others through social activism, young people can demonstrate service by caring for the environment in every area of the community and world.

  5. Brainstorm ideas for an environmental stewardship service project, locally or globally. It is helpful to contact a local nonprofit that addresses environmental issues to ask about needs and ways to address them.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Analyze information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to the common good.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Articulate and demonstrate the safety procedures that are part of the volunteer experience.
    3. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.