A solar company that hires locally and reduces energy bills, a brewery that gives used grains to farmers, and a program that teaches young people about the environment in their own neighborhoods.
These are just a few of the players in Philadelphia’s growing green economy. In a city full of drafty buildings, polluted waterways and smoggy air, there is no shortage of opportunities for businesses focused on building more sustainable, eco-friendly neighborhoods
But many of the jobs generated in Philly’s growing environmental sector end up going to people who don’t live in the neighborhoods hit hardest by environmental injustices.
“The poverty rate in Philadelphia is through the roof,” said Sara Lomax-Reese, president and CEO of WURD Radio at an ecoWURD event on Saturday. “We need to connect people with opportunities in our neighborhoods, in our communities so that they are empowered and they can earn livable wages and can be sustained.”
There are close to 9,000 clean energy jobs in Philadelphia, according to a 2018 report from E2, a non-partisan advocacy group for business and the environment.
EcoWURD panelists said not enough is being done to connect local people to these opportunities.
Ky Sanders is a solar installer and trainer for Solar States, a Philadelphia-based solar installation and education company.
She said sustainability needs to be incorporated into everyday life in order for people, especially young people, to see it as a viable career option.
EcoWURD is a multimedia environmental justice journalism initiative exploring the intersection of race, income & the environment. Saturday’s event was held in partnership with Green Philly, an independent media organization that covers sustainability topics for the local region.