Jen Winston BLM quote

Racism, Fast Fashion, and a New Vision

June 2020

I’ve been excited to see the activism around racial justice and equality the last few weeks after the deplorable death of George Floyd. Small changes are starting to happen. The state of Oregon declared Juneteenth a state holiday. Portland reduced its police budget and created a new resource to call on instead of the police for homeless concerns. With so many people waking up and taking action we have an opportunity to create lasting change. Have you joined the anti-racism conversation? I’ve been listening and learning, making masks to protect protesters, hosted a letter writing and discussion group focused on racism and have started reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. It’s ongoing work. I’m committed and have a lot to learn.

It’s easy to think, this isn’t my problem. I’m not racist, and I can’t help what my ancestors have done, but the truth is that we were all born into a system that is based around racism–exploiting black and brown people for profits for the white. It’s up to all of us to do what we can to make change. I don’t know how we change the whole system, but if we all do what we can, things are bound to start shifting for the better. Every voice matters.

I’ve advocated for sustainable fashion for years. It’s all connected. Fast fashion has racism at its root. It is designed around excessive consumption that is not sustainable. Cheap clothing is made by exploiting the labor of BIPOC around the world. The $5 t-shirt has us addicted to always wanting more. Did you know that 85% of clothing ends up in a landfill? Many fast fashion companies have 52 seasons a year. It’s a constant overconsumption cycle with the profits supporting white billionaires, many of whom refused to pay workers for garments already made after Covid-19 hit.

Poster: It may take a while to comprehend your role in racist systems, but keep in mind that people are dying while they wait for you. -Jen Winston, Black Lives Matter

If you are wondering how you can make a difference, consider your purchases. More than ever it’s important to carefully choose where you spend your money. Since we have been in lockdown and many of our normal activities and habits have stopped, we have the opportunity to consider moving forward in a different and more deliberate manner. Ask questions before every purchase. Who made it? Where? What does this company support? What is it made of?  Do I really need this? Will it last? Who do I want to support? What kind of world do I want to support? I think we can make a big difference in the world by consuming less, and then voting with our dollar by supporting our local communities, small businesses, black owned business, sustainably minded companies, and businesses that give back. Our world needs this more than ever right now.

What if we created a future based on what was best for all of humanity and planet earth and not just what’s best for ME the individual?

Posters from Outlet PDX

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