Climate justice: Understanding sustainability as a social justice issue

Jin Choi
July 28, 2020

The following excerpt is from 18-year-old Mana Short’s story for USGBC’s Living Standard campaign, which seeks to improve the basic quality of life for human beings all around the world. This campaign collects and shares stories that prove anyone has the power to make a measurable impact on the quality of life of everyone around us. Because sustenance, water, air, and shelter are what every person on the planet deserves.

I grew up loving the outdoors from a young age, skiing and snowboarding at my grandparents’ home in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. However, it wasn’t until I better understood the relationship between social justice and sustainability that I began to actively engage in climate and environmental work. 

In my junior year of high school, I had the opportunity to complete a homestay with a family in Mexico City, Mexico to further my Spanish language studies. During my time there, I witnessed the struggle of the migrant movement across the U.S./Mexico border. This propelled me to learn more about issues of social justice, such as immigration and economic displacement.

The next summer, my older sister Emmy was home from university and introduced our family to composting and zero-waste living. This sparked my curiosity in sustainability, so I began reading articles and scientific reports about climate change.

Read the rest of Mana’s story at