WORDS BY YESSENIA FUNES
As we enter the holiday season, we may be wondering what last-minute presents to give our loved ones that won’t wreck the planet. Well, have you considered doing a donation to an environmental justice group in their honor? Or asking friends to do that for you? The Frontline features some groups you may consider donating to this year.
What I love most about the holiday season is the gift-giving. Hey, I’m not perfect: I may have bought my boyfriend the PlayStation 5, but I still try to prioritize what people really need when I buy them presents. Unfortunately, my loved ones’ wish lists rarely factor in sustainability or ethical consumerism, which should be at the top of all of our wish lists. (My own list of cute pie pans and fruity lip gloss leaves plenty of room for improvement, but I digress.)
Perhaps you might be on a similar road, hoping to do some good with the dollars your friends want to throw your way this year. Our Instagram already features some gifts you can purchase from Choose Love, an online store that sells products that help protect vulnerable refugees during their most difficult times, and our Shop includes our biannual print magazine, but I’ve got a few more ideas.
Welcome to The Frontline, where we’re feeling the holiday spirit. I’m Yessenia Funes, climate editor of Atmos. I love presents—especially when they involve badass environmental groups. This week, I’ve listed a few organizations you might consider donating to or asking friends to donate to on your behalf this holiday season. All my zero-waste homies, this one’s for you.
The organizations listed below are local environmental justice groups that don’t often get the same love as Big Green organizations. That being said, even national groups have smaller chapters that need funding, so dig further and look into what’s available locally before exporting your dollars. For example: There are national groups like the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Moms Clean Air Force that do crucial work. And there are local chapters of giant groups like Black Lives Matter and the Sunrise Movement, too!
UPROSE has been in the game for more than 50 years. It’s Brooklyn’s oldest organization rooted in the Latinx community. Since its creation, however, UPROSE has extended its work to include all frontline communities in the Sunset Park neighborhood where it sits. UPROSE also helped launch New York City’s first community solar program where members cooperatively own the solar energy system.
If you want to support it, you can donate here.
Louisiana Bucket Brigade
New Orleans, LA
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade gets down. That’s what I love most about this group, which fights for clean air and energy in the New Orleans area. In June, two of its members, including its Executive Director Anne Rolfes, were arrested for simply delivering boxes of plastic in protest. Recently, its members have been protesting a $9.4 billion toxic petrochemical plant proposal from Formosa Plastics.
If you want to fight the good fight alongside the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, you can donate here.
Air Alliance Houston
This year showed us the ways air pollution literally kills people. This isn’t a new concept, per se, but COVID-19 made this reality impossible to ignore. Air Alliance Houston has been working to reduce air pollution in and around Houston for more than 25 years. The group has installed air quality monitors in local schools, too—taking up a responsibility city and state leaders have historically failed on.
If clean air for kids in one of the nation’s most industrialized regions sounds like a worthy gift, you can donate to the alliance here.
Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy
Not all environmental justice organizations worthy of your donation protest corrupt corporations. Some of them take these fools to court. The Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy was born out of the destruction Hurricane Katrina wrought on the Gulf Coast. Since then, the center has done legal work around BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill and making a Green New Deal possible for the South.
Support the center’s vision for equitable climate policy here.
Asian Pacific Environmental Network
The COVID-19 pandemic has struck the Asian-American and Pacific-Islander communities in unprecedented ways. Violent racist attacks are on the rise, and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) has stood by its community’s side through it all. APEN’s work also includes a long history of advocating against the Chevron refinery in Richmond, California.
If you’re based in the Bay Area, consider sending APEN some love here.
South Seattle, WA
I’ve always been impressed with Got Green. Its organizers have long been able to draw connections between greater racial injustices and the environmental harms communities in South Seattle face—from access to healthy foods to green career paths for its youth. Seattle has been facing severe gentrification since Big Tech companies like Amazon came through, and Got Green has been on the frontlines of the fight for affordable housing.
Consider supporting Got Green with a donation here.
Gwich’in Steering Committee
The Gwich’in Steering Committee needs more help than ever. President Donald Trump is doing everything in his power to open up the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, sacred land to the Gwich’in people; its protection being the sole reason the committee exists. The committee has already taken legal action to stop the Trump administration, but they may be in for the long fight if any companies manage to buy leases before President-elect Joe Biden enters office.
Help protect one of North America’s last-remaining pieces of pristine wilderness and ensure the Gwich’in’s survival by donating to the committee here.
Happy holidays, y’all!