by Mark Van Streefkerk
Did you know that only 9% of plastic is actually recycled? That percentage even includes the wide range of plastics we put in the recycling bin. Plastic bottles are recycled consistently, but everything else — milk jugs, plastic wrappers, the clamshells that package your deli sandwich — ends up in landfills, incinerated, or shipped overseas to stagnate in heaps in Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia or the Philippines.
Worldwide, plastic invariably ends up in oceans and waterways, polluting the ecosystem, consumed by fish and other sea animals, which in turn are eaten by us. Even if you don’t eat seafood, plastics are everywhere. In fact, there is so much plastic in the world that we literally eat, drink, and breathe in microplastics. It’s estimated that we could be ingesting up to a credit card-size of microplastics a week. What that plastic consumption means for our bodies is still undetermined, although plastic chemicals can act as endocrine disruptors and could have harmful effects on hormones and reproductive systems. It’s a sobering reminder that we can’t outrun or outsource our waste.
In this installment of our ongoing series on how to reduce our carbon footprint, we’ll take a look at what makes plastics so harmful, what the good news is, and how a group of South End youth are educating their neighbors on plastic waste.
Continue reading The South End Guide to Reducing Our Carbon Footprint: Fighting Plastics
by Ronnie Estoque
Last month, Got Green, a South Seattle-based grassroots organization that works towards environmental, racial, and economic justice made a big announcement. The organization’s executive director, Jill Mangaliman, transitioned out of their position after a decade. Mangaliman joined Got Green as a volunteer in 2009 and has left a lasting impact on the organization through their leadership on various campaigns and programs over the years.
“I definitely consider myself like, you know, I call it a late bloomer,” Mangaliman said regarding their long-time community organizing work. They had grown up in a Filipino household where the discussion of politics rarely occurred, so they consider their road to activism to have begun much later in their life.
Continue reading After 10 Years, Jill Mangaliman’s Departure From Got Green Leaves a Lasting Legacy
by Cedar Bushue
(This article originally appeared on Real Change and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
I am a long-term resident of South Park. My family and I have had a home here for three generations. South Park is a small neighborhood in South Seattle, hemmed in by the Duwamish and a couple of highway spurs. It is a residential neighborhood but also home to many industries for Seattle and King County. Our life expectancy here is 8+ years less than Seattle as a whole, according to a 2013 study funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. Because it is a small, minority-majority neighborhood without resources, we are home to a transfer station, many homeless encampments, and many industrial areas.
National Products Incorporated (NPI) is a local company that started in someone’s garage but has grown to overtake a great deal of land in the heart of the neighborhood, displacing many neighbors as well as several stately trees that provided wildlife habitat and shade for the human inhabitants. Incidentally, this facility is directly across from one of the main neighborhood parks.
Because South Park is small and its residents don’t make a fuss, companies like NPI can pretty much do whatever they want while the County willingly ignores or happily rubber stamps every expansion plan.
Continue reading OPINION: National Products Inc. Pumps Environmental Hazards Into South Park Daily
by Hannah Krieg
Paige Robertson is a young climate justice advocate who lives under the flight path of Sea-Tac International Airport. This means an aircraft could be over her head as often as every 45 seconds, said another concerned resident of the SeaTac area.
According to a 96-page report by Public Health – Seattle & King County, more than 50% of the people in King County who identify as Black/African American, Hispanic, Latino, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander live within 10 miles of the Sea-Tac airport. This same radius also has the highest rating for negative health outcomes such as heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, premature birth, and cancer.
Continue reading Incumbents Face Off With Social Justice-Minded Challengers for Port Commission
by Mercer Middle School
(This article was previously published by International Examiner and has been reprinted with permission)
It is a pleasure to present essays from Mercer Middle School. These students took a journalism class and want to learn more about social justice causes and ways they can make a difference, which comes through in their writing. When they wrote these articles, they were learning about why journalism matters and why it’s important.
Continue reading Social Justice Journalism From Mercer Middle School Students
by Ben Adlin
Shape Our Water is a community-centered project from Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and KVRU 105.7 FM, a hyperlocal low power FM station in South Seattle, to plan the next 50 years of Seattle’s drainage and wastewater systems. Funded by SPU, the project spotlights members of local community-based organizations and asks them to share how water shapes their lives. Our latest conversation is with Maggie Angel-Cano, community engagement and communications specialist for the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition.
Growing up in South Park, Maggie Angel-Cano spent years without realizing Seattle’s only river ran through her neighborhood.
“We had no idea there was a river in the community,” she said. “We just, you know, lived our daily life: work, school, back home.”
Continue reading Shape Our Water: Magdalena ‘Maggie’ Angel-Cano
by Paulina López and Troy D. Abel
Recently, legislative debates turned from carbon pricing to the Healthy Environment for All Act (HEAL) uplifting environmental justice (EJ). This is important legislation, but what we really need are bold solutions and different laws addressing a persistent form of unjust and ongoing pollution. Air toxic exposure disparities and their impacts on communities like the Duwamish Valley are still being ignored by politicians and industry. This inattention continues even as new research suggests that higher air pollution may increase COVID-19 vulnerability and deaths.
Many environmentalists in our region not only overlook decades of toxic air pollution injustice, some even gloss over the problem. In January, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Seattle office announced that industrial toxic releases declined in the Northwest. Pollution dropped 12% in 2019 for 752 facilities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska. They further asserted “that U.S. companies that use and manage chemicals and metals continue to make progress in preventing pollution.”
But we knew that regional averages likely obscured trends in our heavily polluted Duwamish River Valley neighborhoods of Georgetown and South Park — often first documented by our community. EPA analysts lumped air, water, and land pollution together. When viewed separately, air and water pollution went up in the Northwest. Surface-water discharges increased by 1.17 million pounds and air pollution by 610 thousand pounds between 2018 and 2019.
Continue reading OPINION: Clean Air Everywhere, for Everyone in Washington
by Elizabeth Turnbull
Front and Centered, a coalition focused on racial equity and environmental justice, held a media briefing on Thursday, Feb. 18, featuring members of its Community Council to address pollution and its effects on communities of color across the nation. At the briefing, panelists specifically pushed against cap-and-trade policy proposals, including one in Washington State.
Continue reading Environmental Justice Activists Push Back on Inslee Cap-and-Trade Proposal
by Jack Russillo
They’re calling it “Campfire Stories,” and the event will shed light on some of Seattle’s most innovative and ambitious leaders working toward a sustainable and equitable future.
On Tuesday December 8 at 6 p.m. Sustainable Seattle (S2) will host its eleventh Sustainability Leadership Awards, where it will recognize and celebrate the efforts of local experts, organizers, and organizations that have produced exceptional sustainability work in the past year. This year, the free event will take place online. Virtual doors will open at 5:45 p.m. and the event will commence shortly after.
Since 1991, S2 has worked to guide initiatives, create events, assemble a diverse range of community members, and spread awareness from around the Seattle area to activate a world that is safe, accessible, and enduring for all.
Continue reading Sustainable Seattle to Host Virtual Leadership Awards Event to Celebrate and Connect Local Sustainability Experts
by Melia LaCour
It took several attempts before I could finally write this article. What do the 2020 election victories for Black women Democrats mean to me as a Black, mixed-race woman? Each time, I erupted in explosive grief. A complex grief that holds a thousand stories.
Continue reading When We Elect Black Women Leaders