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Category Archives: pollution

Inner city youth are often cast off as failures and drop outs who cause destruction in their communities. But the Earth Conservation Corps is trying to channel that energy.  They are a youth development and environmental restoration organization based in Southeast Washington D.C. The Corpos employs troubled young adults from the area and puts them to work cleaning up the Anacostia river.  The Anacostia river is not only one of the nation’s most polluted rivers but also runs through one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods; Anacostia.  

Located only a few blocks away from the US Capitol, Anacostia is choked by high crime, poverty, and heavy pollution.  It isn’t surprising that the river has just as many problems. About 20,000 tons of trash are dumped in the river each year and every time it rains in the district, raw sewage overflows into the river resulting in a total of two billion gallons of raw sewage every year.  

Corps members, who often come from criminal backgrounds, clean up debris, educate community youth about native wildlife and the environment, and investigate to find pollution sources.  Over 400 students have graduated from the Earth Conservation Corps. While in the program, members are paid minimum wage, given health insurance, and receive a $5,000 scholarship if they choose to go onto college. 

But they can’t save everyone. The Earth Conservation Corps has lost at least one member each year, many of which were the result of violence.  Diamond Teague, a 19 year old who completed 7 months in the ECC was murdered in 2003.  He was shot in the head while he was sitting on his front porch.  Another member, Aaron Teeter, was a high school dropout and former drug dealer before he joined ECC.  When he became a member, he became interested in journalism and video making.  But he too was shot in the head while sitting on his front stoop.   

The Earth Conservation Corps now documents all of it’s activities on video in hopes to tell the world about not only the environmental injustice in Anacostia but also the harsh realities young adults face every day.

Photo courtesy of Ali Sanders

In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared a war on cancer. Through the National Cancer Act, he established the first presidential panel on cancer and charged them to submit an annual report on cancer in the US.  

This year, the presidential panel has said that environmental factors are more responsible for the rising cancer rates than previously believed. Dr. Philip Landrigan told ABC news that "for the past 30 years, there has been systemic effort to minimize the importance of environmental factors and carcinogenesis…This report marks a sea change."

Some of the hazardous exposure detailed in the report include pesticides, fertilizers, pharmaceutical byproducts in water supplies, household chemicals, and emissions from cars, trucks, and planes. The panel urges the Obama administration to put more funding in for research of environmental toxins.

Click here to read more about the report

Photo by wild prairie man

How far would you go to challenge yourself in reducing your carbon footprint? How about a whole week without using plastic? Just think, no plastic candy wrappers, no plastic packaging, no soda bottles, and no plastic bags. Taking it a step further, you could even exclude radios made of plastic or plastic storage bins or plastic asthma inhalers. Because plastic is so pervasive in our daily lives, I think it might be a pretty rough challenge, but someone did it and lived to tell!
In the summer of 2008 blogger Zadi Diaz gave up plastic for seven days and documented the whole process. She found herself at a lost when she needed aspirin… because hers was in a plastic bottle, but she did learn some valuable lessons along the way and she gives some great tips on cutting down on plastic.

Photo by welovepandas