Prior to the course, I had limited knowledge regarding environmental justice, the social movement itself, and related environmental legislation. Regarding waste, I was aware that currently, there is a pressing need to decrease the number of by-products and build comprehensive waste management to preserve our country and planet. However, I was never really concerned with this problem to start acting by myself. For instance, I did not sort my own waste and put it in the appropriate bins. I was hardly concerned with environmental discrimination cases in neighborhoods close to my own home. Even if I discovered any environmental problem watching the news, I was accepting it as something inevitable.
What is more, I believed that it is not really possible to change something and achieve adequate protection from hazards to everyone by opposing unfair policies. I thought it was the duty and primary responsibility of the government to decide where to place environmentally hazardous sites, such as waste sites, energy production, and manufacturing facilities. I suppose it was due to the lack of knowledge regarding environmental protection and waste management.
Following the course, I believe that only joint and active efforts can mitigate the challenging environmental problems the world currently faces. Nevertheless, every person has to contribute and do as much as possible to reduce waste and impact environmental management. To my mind, it is the most valuable contribution of the course as it changed my state of mind and attitude to the issue. I enjoyed Zero Waste Challenge over the course of two weeks since it made us determine our standard rate of waste generation and encouraged us to reduce it as much as possible. Creative Communications Course projects fostered my creativity, search for solutions, and improved my communication skills. Co-leading class discussions contributed to a better understanding of material since I was able to discuss main concepts with my peers using multiple tools.
Moreover, it was a pleasure to explore justice in environment management, understand how waste affects people, and learn more about relevant case studies of urban environmental injustice. What is more, it was useful to become familiar both with political and legal aspects of environmental justice in the US since it is a complex issue that requires the efforts of all stakeholders. The course explained why and how several economic, social, and political processes lead to situations when some groups are denied the basic right to a clean environment free from pollution and contamination. Information on practical approaches to environmental justice was valuable since it brought hope that marginalized societies that face environmental injustices can be empowered and heard.
I would start with myself trying to control and reduce waste generation, use more eco-friendly materials, and sort garbage. This course also taught me that there are always ways to address any social and environmental issue using creativity and communication skills. I also learned how to work in groups, brainstorm, and discuss different aspects of the issue with other students. What is more, I currently consider joining a local organization to raise the community’s awareness about social and environmental inequalities. Now I believe that everyone should support the movement for equal and fair waste management. I want to apply the knowledge and skills I received during the course because environmental problems affect everyone and should be addressed jointly.