On Sunday, April 23rd, 2023, WE ACT For Environmental Justice, the Just Green Partnership and Earth Hacks co-hosted Policy for the People, a one-day hybrid workshop focused on environmental justice education and policy communication. The event was held from 11 am to 6 pm, and participants joined virtually or in person at the WE ACT Office.
The workshop aimed to educate participants on the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act (S4265) and the PFAS in Menstrual Products Bill (S3529). Personal care products are largely unregulated, and many of them contain chemicals that can be harmful to human health. While everyone is at risk, due largely to Eurocentric beauty standards, women and femme-identifying people of color face the greatest exposure from products marketed to them.
The event welcomed all New York students who are 18+ and interested in environmental justice. Women and femme-identifying individuals of color, who have experienced exposure to harmful chemicals in makeup and menstrual products, were especially encouraged to attend.
During the event, participants learned about the social, scientific, and legislative context surrounding the bills and created digital media content to educate communities across New York State and beyond. The event also included “action breaks” for real-time advocacy for climate laws in New York. All participants were recognized on the WE ACT website and credited for their contribution to any campaign material.
The event featured several activities, including opening remarks and a meet-and-greet with senators, a science communication best practices presentation during lunch, an environmental justice and health presentation, and a content creation session.
Briana Carbajal, WE ACT’s State Legislative Manager, highlighted the importance of Policy for the People in advancing environmental justice in New York State. “Policy for the People was an incredibly important part of WE ACT’s policy campaign advancing environmental justice in New York State. We had students join us from all across the state to develop a deeper understanding of the issues that priority communities face. They learned how to organize themselves to advocate for policy change from their state legislators and how important it is to tell their stories. Overall, EarthHacks is a wonderful organization to work with and the quality of work we came away with from the event will help advocates pass crucial EJ bills this session.”
Gabby Gonzales a program associate at Clean and Healthy New York, which co-leads the Just Green Partnership with WE ACT, shared that “Earth Hacks was great to work with to support a new audience to create some local change and learn about policies that would directly affect them. We are constantly bombarded by news and tasks throughout our days that distract us from the simple things in front of us such as personal care products and menstrual products. There are many toxics in those everyday items alone. Educating each other is the first step and then we can empower each other to take action.”
Elizabeth Reyes, a Cecil Corbin-Mark fellow at WE ACT who shared her personal journey in environmental justice advocacy, added that “ It was wonderful working with Earthhacks and all the young people that came out to support the movement for a toxic free world. The Climate Justice movement is intergenerational, and it was great working with young people, all united in the fight for environmental justice.”
At Policy for the People, participants learned about the pressing need for environmental justice, the legislative context for the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act and the PFAS in Menstrual Products Bill, and how to create impactful digital content to educate their communities. Earth Hacks, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and the Just Green Partnership thank participants for their time and efforts!