The TRC’s Role in Environmental Justice
We have heard much about justice in recent days, and this emphasis dovetailed last week — April 21 — with Earth Day. The connection? While seemingly unrelated, there is a connective tissue to the two and we call it environmental justice.
This is not some esoteric term but rather a genuine concern of many, including the federal government, which supports the concept.
For those who might be unfamiliar with environmental justice, the Environmental Protection Agency provides a definition.
According to the EPA, “Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.” The EPA says this goal is attainable when everyone enjoys:
- The same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and
- Equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.
The foundation of this definition is clear. It calls for fairness, not favoritism, for anyone who faces environmental issues. This is particularly true of any group that rarely had a voice in the decision-making process.
TRC is an environmental steward on this issue, because of our efforts to protect the environment, and I don’t mind saying that’s why I find my work so fulfilling.
I know it’s a cliché, but I really believe that we can all do our part. I recall watching the national news last week, and the last segment highlighted a person who picked up trash along his hiking trail.
“The wildly popular Eaton Canyon [California] hiking area has been cleaned of all litter, thanks to one man who committed to picking up trash every day for more than a year,” according to MSN.com.
“Edgar McGregor says there’s no longer any garbage littering Eaton Canyon’s main trail, the waterfalls, the storm drains, or the homeless encampments. His work to pick up litter were also not deterred by rain, falling ash from a burning wildfire, or the appearance of a bobcat. McGregor says he collected up to three thousand pounds of trash on some days.”
Remarkably, persons in other communities around the world began copying his practice, after viewing the effort on social media.
If Edgar McGregor is one person, then TRC, which began modestly, is an army of partners dedicated to one product or a single element more accurately. When I think about the value of our work, I recall that many of our units come from overburdened communities that need energy upgrades, including the replacement of old thermostats. It is refreshing to note that TRC serves an essential role in the supply chain for those old thermostats.
If you are interested in the EPA’s fact sheet on environmental justice, visit https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-09/documents/epa_office_of_environmental_justice_factsheet.pdf
In the meantime, TRC will continue on its mission, undeterred as it has been for more than 20 years: collecting and safely recycling mercury-containing thermostats, making the planet just a little safer for everyone. It is our effort to spread environmental justice for all.