As a sustainable brand, we have been and always will be focused on positive impact. We know there is a better path to follow, and are working hard to shine light on ways for the industry to evolve.
We approach business through a broad lens: as a global collective of human beings on this blue speck in our universe. But there comes a time when we need to zoom in, with love, humility, and determination. Climate change is a symptom of the unfettered greed and exploitation of the capitalist society that defines America. It's been built on the backs of slaves and continues at the cost of black, brown and indigenous lives. Sustainability and anti-racism may seem unrelated, but they are deeply entwined.
Greed leads to inequality and imbalance, which then fuels climate change. To fight climate change, we need to confront its source: unjust systems that enable and perpetuate greed. Let's have a look at the threads that connect the human rights of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous & People Of Color) with sustainability.
GLOBAL AGRICULTURE [FOOD] Marginalized groups make up the majority of workers and a good portion of the consumers in conventional agriculture's supply chains. They are exposed to bacteria, viruses and toxins at factory farms & processing plants, and synthetic pesticides and other toxic chemicals in the growth and processing of GMO food & fiber crops. Unsurprising is the white dominated land ownership (~98%) and USDA representation (78%). Organic agriculture regenerates soil, air & water quality and positively impacts those at both ends of the supply chain, their communities and the people in between.
NEIGHBORHOODS OF COLOR [WATER, SAFETY] Due to historic redlining and segregation, Black Americans and low-income BIPOC communities are intentionally exposed to disproportionate amounts of air, water, and soil pollution and toxic waste. Our government continues to target poor neighborhoods of color for dumping sites, fracking paths and chemical plants, causing a host of physical and mental health issues, from severe asthma to cognitive delays and cancer. People of color live in the most flood-prone, low-lying & unstable areas, susceptible to damage by severe weather caused by climate change.
SYSTEMIC OPPRESSION The take-make-waste philosophy that underscores consumer capitalism doesn't just apply to natural resources-- it applies to humans. BlPOC have been treated as an expendable resource for the taking: exploited, incarcerated, sickened and killed to fill the pockets of white men. Add to that the alternate history of colonialism that has been taught for centuries, whitewashing the truth about America's "founders." And a staggering number of non-convicted minority Americans are trapped in jail because they don't have cash for bail. An added slap in the face, fashion brands and musicians appropriate BIPOC culture for profit. Lack of representation in local governments enable it all to continue. BIPOC leaders must have a seat at the table where decisions are made about environment and economics. VOTE.
After allowing all that to sink in, please don't hesitate in getting started on making change. Here is an action list to get you started:
We are, of late, finding ourselves leaning on the words of sustainable fashion leaders. Here are a few that are...
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