The Color of Climate

Amazon Is Getting Called Out by Its Own Workers for ‘Environmental Racism’

Most of the company’s highly polluting fulfillment centers are in communities of color

Drew Costley
Published in
5 min readMay 28, 2020

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Photo: Don Emmert/Getty Images

This is The Color of Climate, a weekly column from OneZero exploring how climate change and other environmental issues uniquely impact the future of communities of color.

On Wednesday, a recording of two San Bernardino teens pleading for Amazon to address its environmental impact was played at the company’s annual shareholder meeting. Former Amazon employee Maren Costa transmitted the audio during her comments to shareholders.

Teens Amy and April, who only used their first names, said they both have asthma and asked the shareholders to reduce the amount of air pollution the company creates in their predominantly Latinx community. They said their mother has worked in an Amazon warehouse in the Inland Empire, the Southern California region where San Bernardino is located, since 2012.

“A lot of our friends have asthma. It is normal here. We can’t run without our inhalers,” April said.

Their message was part of a proposal presented by Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ), a nationwide group of former and current Amazon workers pushing the company to adopt more environmentally just policies. The proposal called for an investigation into the environmental impact of Amazon operations in U.S. communities of color, reparation for harm caused in those communities by pollution from Amazon’s facilities, and mitigation of future potential environmental harms. It was one of 12 proposals that were up for a vote at the meeting. The day before the meeting, AECJ published a Medium post outlining how Amazon’s fulfillment centers cause air pollution in communities of color.

But the proposal was voted down by shareholders. The board of directors, which includes Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, recommended that they vote against it. In its recommendations to shareholders, which were published ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, the board said it “believes that our existing initiatives… demonstrate that we are already responsibly managing the environmental impact of our operations on the communities in…

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Drew Costley
OneZero

Drew Costley is a Staff Writer at FutureHuman covering the environment, health, science and tech. Previously @ SFGate, East Bay Express, USA Today, etc.