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  • Writer's pictureArielle Kouyoumdjian

Interactive Activity: Uncover Local Environmental Issues

Hey, CPJ subscribers! In this post, we're kicking off a mission that starts right outside your front door. We're calling on you to identify and document environmental issues in your neighborhood. Through observation, documentation, and community engagement, you have the power to shed light on local eco-dilemmas and ignite meaningful change. Grab a notebook or a camera, and let's begin!

We hope you'll share what you've uncovered with the Changing Planet Justice Foundation. We may publish your story right here in the CPJ Journal, where it can inspire other young people around the world!

Print out this guide to help you with the activity, then follow the steps below the guide to complete the task.

  1. Your task: Sketch, describe, or take a picture of an environmental issue in your community.  It could be anything from pollution in a nearby river to the lack of green spaces in your neighborhood. Detailed examples and possible solutions for common environmental concerns can be found at the bottom of this post.

  2. Once you've uncovered an issue in your community, it's time to record it. Take photographs, videos, or notes documenting what you see and any relevant details such as location, time of day, and observable impacts.

  3. As you document the environmental issue, don't hesitate to engage with members of your community. Talk to neighbors, local officials, or environmental organizations to gather additional information, perspectives, and potential solutions.

  4. Take some time to reflect. How does the environmental issue impact your community, nearby ecosystems, or public health? Consider the root causes and potential drivers behind the issue.

  5. Once you've documented your environmental issue and analyzed your findings, it's time get others involved. Create a video, compose a social media post, or put up posters and signs to direct your community's attention to the issue. Submit the issue to the CPJ Journal!

  6. Finally, inspire action in your neighborhood: organize a cleanup event, write to your local Home Owners Association, or work with you neighbors to find other potential solutions. Even if the environmental issue is too big to solve all at once, there are small steps you can take as an individual or as a community to improve it.

  7. Check out our Become a Leader Page for more detailed guidance, and tools that will help you plan out a climate action project in your community. Submit a photograph, sketch, or written description of your local environmental issue to the CPJ Journal, so we can share it and inspire others!

Examples of environmental issues you may find in your neighborhood, and potential solutions your community could implement:

  1. Littering and Illegal Dumping

  • Issue: Accumulation of litter and waste in public spaces, parks, and streets.

  • Solution: Organize regular community clean-up events where residents come together to pick up litter and properly dispose of waste. Install more trash bins and recycling facilities in public areas.

  1. Food Waste

  • Issue: Local restaurants, schools, or households throwing away food scraps

3. Water Contamination

  • Issue: Pollution of water sources due to runoff from lawns and streets

    • Solution: Talk to your neighbors about reducing fertilizer usage on their lawns. Put up signs or designated stations reminding community members to pick up after their pets. Volunteer with local stream restoration or clean up projects. Encourage your family, neighbors, and schools to install rain barrels.

4. Green Space Degradation

  • Issue: Loss of green spaces due to urbanization, development, or neglect.

    • Solution: Advocate for the preservation and expansion of green spaces, parks, and community gardens. Organize tree planting and greening initiatives in your neighborhood to increase vegetation cover and improve biodiversity. Encourage community involvement in maintaining and caring for public green spaces, like community gardens.

5. Food Insecurity

  • Issue: Limited access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food options, especially in low-income neighborhoods.

    • Solution: Establish community gardens and urban farms to increase access to fresh produce and promote food self-sufficiency. Support local farmers markets and community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs. Advocate for policies that address food deserts and incentivize the establishment of grocery stores and healthy food outlets in underserved areas.

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