What do you do with your free time? 17-year-old Destiny Watford spends hers saving her neighborhood.
This isnt an exaggeration; its a reality. And the people who live there deal with it every day.
Why is the air pollution so bad? Well, Curtis Bay a neighborhood in Baltimore is home to a coal export terminal, the nations largest medical waste facility, and an animal rendering plant, to name a few reasons.
In 2012, Destiny learned about a plan to build the countrys largest trash-burning incinerator in Curtis Bay just a mile from her school.
Destiny looked around at her neighborhood, polluted by factory after factory, and decided shed had enough.
Watch Destiny’s full story:
These students banded together and stopped what would have been the nation’s largest trash incinerator from being built just a mile away from their school. A Starbucks original series.
Posted by Upworthy on Friday, September 23, 2016
You may wonder, how could the country so completely disregard the health of these residents?
There’s a reason Curtis Bay and communities like it are often the proposed sites for these types of facilities (ahem, environmental racism). A study published in Environmental Research Letters revealed that factories using toxic substances and waste plants are usually found in poor neighborhoods and those neighborhoods are often predominantly made up of people of color.
The phenomenon is nothing new. History has shown time and time again that poor neighborhoods are often used as dumping grounds. See the Flint water crisis.
The communities being affected often dont have a voice to fight against this injustice. Thats why Destiny is so special.
“Curtis Bay is my home,” explained Destiny. “I grew up here. I live here. My family lives here. My friends live here. If a development like this is happening that would be putting our lives at risk, I couldn’t ignore it.”
She and her peers started Free Your Voice, an organization aimed at stopping the development of the incinerator.
They found out that the Baltimore City Public School System would be purchasing energy from the incinerator and challenged that decision. They won the school board changed its decision and backed out of the contract. 21 other businesses followed suit.
Then, something even bigger happened.