Environmental injustice is a global problem. Studies suggest that around a quarter of the global population lives in dire conditions in overcrowded, polluted areas. The World Health Organization estimates that 3.5 million people die from water-related diseases a year and more than 90% of the world’s children breathe toxic air every day. Many people live with their families near coal-fired power plants or chemical factories which can result in higher rates of asthma and cancer. The poor air quality near power plants is an example of ‘environmental injustice’ because all citizens should have the right to breathe clean air regardless of their physical distance from the polluting source. Environmental injustice occurs when an environmental issue disproportionately impacts minority and marginalized communities, often to the detriment of their health and well-being. Environmental justice is a term used to describe the fight for environmental equity. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that environmental justice is “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies”. All individuals should have equal access to the decision-making process to ensure environmental health.
In the coming future, many of the people living in cities will face circumstances where their quality of life will be negatively impacted by the environment they live in. For instance, if you live near a highway in an urban area, you might be exposed to higher levels of pollution than if you lived in suburbia. Plus climate change is going to create more hostile environments for cities leading to sea level rise impacting many people living in coastal areas. This is why it’s important for us all to learn how to create a healthier environment for ourselves and others as well.
Biophilic Design is one potential solution that can help to solve the problem of environmental injustice. Biophilic design means incorporating natural elements, views of nature, natural materials, finishes and features such as indoor planting and water features, into built environments. Studies have shown that providing green spaces with natural elements around a person’s home helps them stay healthy and elevates their mood plus exposure to trees and flowers helps reduce air pollutants. Incorporating more plants and nature into the built environments of areas that suffer from environmental injustices can actually help make the air cleaner in those zones.
Advantages of biophilia to promote environmental equity
1. Provides high-quality indoor air and creates a healthy environment with low concentrations of air pollutants.
2. Stimulates community engagement and active participation in environmental issues.
3. Decreases the urban environment’s carbon footprint by promoting efficient energy consumption through the use of biophilic materials in buildings.
4. Stimulates economic development by promoting the creation of new businesses and jobs which in turn helps to repair, restore and maintain biophilic features.
5. Improves the health and happiness of those living in urban areas.
6. Reduces the negative feelings associated with a neighborhood’s industrial or commercial districts through the addition of green space that promotes human interaction with nature.
Through Biophilic Design, we can help address environmental injustice issues and give people back their health and well-being by creating environments that are healthier for everyone.
Now you should have a basic idea about the role of biophilia in tackling environmental justice issues. Of course, there are many other tips and tricks for incorporating a more biophilic lifestyle. You can find more information about this in our video and guide!