Environmental Health News

What's Working

  • Garden Mosaics projects promote science education while connecting young and old people as they work together in local gardens.
  • Hope Meadows is a planned inter-generational community containing foster and adoptive parents, children, and senior citizens
  • In August 2002, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board voted to ban soft drinks from all of the district’s schools

About Us

Environmental Research Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1980. We have offices in New Brunswick, NJ and work nationally. In 1980, we began by supporting grass-roots activists working on toxics and social justice issues in New Jersey and in 1986 we began publishing Rachel’s News.

Our work is increasingly about preventing harm to the environment and human health and providing resources to environmental justice (EJ) community groups to better protect their local communities. Our mission is justice and sustainable prosperity for all people. Citizens – armed with information – have always been the engine driving change. As Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Our vision is to build a multi-issue, multi-racial, multi-ethnic movement for a just and sustainable society. To build such a movement, our strategy is to work on the ground, in a support role, shoulder-to-shoulder with environmental justice activists and to provide information and ideas that we make it our business to seek out.

PROGRAMS

Our main goal is building a lifeboat so that people can see what's possible, abandon a sinking ship, and make the necessary societal shift to protect the future we all want for our children. The goal is justice and sustainable prosperity for all.

Achieving social and environmental justice has several parts as we see it: a) Stopping proven dangerous technologies (landfills, incinerators, etc.) and putting the brakes on emerging technologies like genetic engineering and nanotechnology until all alternatives have been thoroughly explored;b) promoting safer alternatives (precautionary action) so that problems are avoided in the first place; and c) promoting local sustainable economic development (precautionary economics), which creates jobs and protects the environment while strengthening the core of a community.


CREATING A CULTURE OF PREVENTING HARM: EXPANDING PRECAUTIONARY ACTION

Rachel’s News: Independent news and resources for grassroots social change
Rachel’s Democracy & Health News (52 issues/yr) – The environment, health, jobs & justice!

  • We reach 10,000 subscribers each week and we estimate that we reach another 20,000 through re-publication of Rachel’s News on a variety of other organization’s Web sites.

  • Rachel’s Democracy & Health News is our most popular vehicle for highlighting the prevention vs. manage choice for problem solving. Do we settle for global warming or take precautionary action and ramp up renewable energy to stop pumping heat trapping gasses into the atmosphere? Do we accept the 750 new chemicals that industry introduces into the environment and human health each year or press for alternatives assessment, full-cost accounting, corporate campaigns and polluter pays policies?

Rachel’s Precaution Reporter (52 issues/yr)

  • We reach 1,000 subscribers each week with Rachel’s Precaution Reporter – the only publication dedicated to tracking the spread of precaution worldwide.

Our goal is to protect the future we all want for our children, to provide justice and sustainable prosperity for all. Precaution is a powerful lens for decision-making, which we aim to embed at all levels of society and government. Whenever society makes a decision – about a technology, land use, or activity that has potentially negative impacts on the world or its inhabitants – it should first ask, “How can we minimize harm to the environment and human health?” That is our goal – a world that involves all stakeholders in the decision-making process and which explicitly seeks to maximize wellbeing for those most affected.

The pace of precautionary principle policy adoption is quickening and will continue to build momentum. Some of our objectives:
  • Expand the application of the precautionary principle from chemicals-and-health to land-use, waste, energy, food-policy and local economic development.
  • Continue to develop the precautionary approach into an overarching philosophy for community decision-making, combined with the public trust doctrine (which states government’s role is to protect the commons), and the commons (where we must give the benefit of the doubt to public health and the natural environment).
  • Eliminate toxic discharges ("zero discharge") by designing products to be waste free, toxic free and designed for re-use thousands of times (zero waste manufacturing).
  • The phase out of all toxic chemicals that persist or bio-accumulate.

  • Guardianship of future generations. Protecting the future will not occur spontaneously. We need to become conscious guardians, and we must build guardianship of the future into our institutions.

Other Goals and Objectives
Expand the movement for social, environmental and economic justice. Objectives that our programs address:

  • Forge closer ties to the public health community. The public health community has understood since 1850 that health is influenced not just by environment, but also by social conditions, including injustice.
  • Build awareness for the "three environments." The environmental movement (including ERF) needs to recognize that we all inhabit three environments – the natural (land, water, air), the built (chemicals, cities, sprawl), and the social environment (social isolation, racism, poverty – and their opposites).
  • Advocate the importance of "social determinants of health" – social factors including poverty, racism, isolation, the sense that life is out of control.
  • Incorporate local economic development into the core of our environmental work. Sustainable economics gives us something to be for that connects with people in ways that really matter (income, benefits, and quality of life).
  • Expand our involvement with multi-racial coalitions - involving diverse groups of activists including environmental justice, urban agriculture, faith-based, and climate justice.
  
 
We work as a core member of the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance which is identifying burdened and vulnerable populations and then advocating precautionary policies in land-use, environmental and economic development decisions in those communities.

  • Sustainable economics technical assistance. We believe that economics is integrally involved in environment and justice problems. We cannot solve one without solving the others. Applying the principles of ‘local living economies’ we aim to create green enterprise zones in disadvantaged neighborhoods in collaboration with existing community-based groups.