The history of industrialization involves a long, ugly series of civil injustices through the environmental degradation of communities at the receiving end of industrial waste streams. It's no coincidence that huge manufacturing plants dispose of their byproducts where people have the least power, money and influence to fight back. As a result, these communities have suffered disproportionate health problems and dealt with substandard environmental conditions for decades, while having the least access to the resources industry both exploits and provides.
During the same period, the environmental movement has grown and become known (at least early on) more for its vehement advocacy for whales and rainforests than for disenfranchised citizens; that was presumed to be the work of the civil rights and social justice movements. More recently, though, it's become glaringly obvious that these movements are inextricably linked -- that environmental degradation is a civil injustice -- and from the junction of the two, the environmental justice movement has emerged.
Environmental justice defines environment to include communities, human health and racial equality in equal proportion to resource depletion, pollution, extinction, and the numerous other issues associated with environmentalism. Not surprisingly, many of the initiatives towards achieving environmental justice have sprouted within affected communities, but clearly the problems and the problem-solvers can't incite widespread change from an isolated position. Today, projects like Sustainable South Bronx and Chicago's Little Village have raised public attention on the issue and made it clear that a sustainable society cannot exist until environmental justice is done.