For the past five months, Proskauer has acted as pro bono counsel to Instituto Recicleiros (Recicleiros), a Brazilian non-profit, in obtaining a grant from the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW). AEPW is an industry-founded non-profit dedicated to funding projects to reduce, and ultimately end, plastic waste.

Brazil has long struggled to properly manage solid waste, as many cities do not provide for proper collection, treatment and disposal of solid waste. This deficiency has resulted in the proliferation of informal dump sites (lixões) that generate public health and environmental hazards. The recent enactment of Brazil’s National Policy for Solid Waste Management requires private companies to comply with recycling requirements and integrate the use of recycled materials into their production processes. Other regulations stipulate that municipalities must ensure that there are proper disposal options, including the recycling of solid materials.

In recent years, increased transparency into the nutritional value of our food has enabled consumers to make more informed decisions on their own eating habits, knowing that their choices directly correlate with their overall health. Leaders behind this movement are hopeful that initiatives such as the new laws on food labeling that require calorie counts, fats, and sodium levels to be included on menus will encourage healthier selections. However, the effectiveness of these or other health education initiatives has often been criticized as unsustainable or ineffective, especially within high poverty communities and among youth.

In 2005, frustrated by the lack of health information in these high-need areas, Dr. Olajide Williams, then a doctor at Harlem Hospital Center, proposed an innovative technique to promote health education in these at-risk communities. His big idea – to communicate important health information through a catchy rap song. Three years later in 2008 he founded Hip Hop Public Health, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering positive health behavior change through the power of hip-hop music. Their methods are unique, and the premise is simple – by providing youth with information on health and nutrition through a catchy medium, they empower them to make healthier choices, and help reduce preventable poor health conditions and childhood obesity. The organization has recruited the talents of many artists including Doug E. Fresh, Chuck D and DMC. A full library of health-related hip-hop tracks now lives on the organization’s website for easy access by students all across the globe.

A team of pro bono attorneys at Proskauer recently celebrated a significant step forward in their fight for safe and healthy housing for the more than 400,000 New Yorkers who live in apartments operated by the New York City Housing Authority (“NYCHA”), the largest public housing authority in the country.  Federal Judge William Pauley in the Southern District of New York entered an order requiring NYCHA to implement enhanced procedures to ensure the effective and timely remediation of mold and excessive moisture.  The order also creates independent oversight to ensure NYCHA’s compliance with these obligations.

The Court’s decision provides relief for a class of public housing tenants who suffer from asthma exacerbated by mold and water leaks.  As NYCHA has reported, 150,000 NYCHA residents, including 35,000 children under the age of 15, live in developments located in “asthma hotspots” that generate the highest rates of asthma-related emergency room visits in New York City.