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Poverty & Pollution


  1. Start by making sure that everyone is familiar with the ideas you’ll be exploring by asking the whole group to match the concepts on the cards to their definitions.
  2. Split into smaller groups and ask them to think about who is most affected by pollution, and how it affects them.
  3. Come back together and ask groups to share what they have come up with. If necessary, prompt them further to think beyond just physical health needs (e.g. people with asthma), and consider:
    • People on low incomes who may not be able to afford to move away from high polluting places like power stations or waste disposal areas.
    • People with poorer access to healthcare will miss more working days due to sickness, which lowers their income more.
    • People from minority ethnic backgrounds are often discriminated against in a variety of ways and access to healthcare and equal pay in the workplace contribute to this.
    • The environment in the Global South is polluted by industries meeting the demands of richer nations (e.g. cobalt mining for smartphones).
    • The effects of climate change are likely to be most accute in the Global South, e.g. drought and crop failure in sub-Saharan Africa.
  4. Ask groups to think about their community and all the people who live there, as well as the sources of pollution. Do richer or poorer people live nearer to landfill sites, busy main roads, on on low-lying land that could flood?
  5. Get groups to create a 5 minute play, a collage, a picture, a song or a poem about how pollution affects different types of people in their community.

Reflect and Discuss

When groups have presented their responses to the creative task, reflect as a group on:

  • Is this inequality acceptable?
  • Is there anyone in your community who is trying to make things more fair?
  • Are there any organisations who are campaigning to ensure poor people and rich people have the same quality of living conditions?
  • What would a more environmentally just situation look like in your community?

PDF of Words

Take it further

This activity has been adapted from Teaching Tolerance in the USA. You can find more activities and resources to support you on their website at

Resources Required

Pens & Paper, Copies of the words and definitions on the back of this card


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