WHAT IS INTERSECTIONAL ENVIRONMENTALISM?
Intersectional. Environmentalism. The second word is quite clear: the movement for the protection of the planet. But how can it be intersectional? You can think of it like an 'overlap.' And remember we talked about inclusion and social sustainability in our article with Rekut? The concept is pretty similar: protecting the planet but also protecting the rights of minorities.
There are too many environmental injustices that affect marginalized communities more than the average person, which is an injustice being fought by intersectional environmentalism.
WHY DOES IT MATTER NOW MORE THAN EVER?
The wealthiest 1 percent carbon emissions are more than double the emissions of the poorest, which is 50% of HUMANITY. So clearly, there is a major imbalance in the cause of climate change, brought on by overconsumption and much higher standards of living. As if that wasn't enough, the poorest 50% also suffer climate change consequences the most. Climate change has caused deadly cyclones in India and Bangladesh, prolonged droughts in the southern and central parts of Africa affecting millions of people's food security, and rising sea-levels disproportionately affect small island nations such as Samoa and Sri Lanka.
We all saw the fake news about dolphins in Venice and messages about the planet healing during the pandemic. However, despite falls in carbon emissions in 2020, the climate crisis continued to grow.
Land use is a topic that is particularly relevant to Intersectional Environmentalism: indigenous people have always been extremely connected to their land, which ranges from tropical forests to islands and are often biodiversity heavens. Both the people's rights and the environment are ignored when plans are made for large-scale aggressive projects such as intense agriculture or mining, where biological and cultural diversity are ignored. The indigenous people of the Amazonian rainforest make up around 900,000 people fighting for survival as trees are cut down for farming and agriculture under president Bolsonaro. One of the last acts by the Trump administration was to transfer sacred Native American Land to miners.
Clearly, something must be done to avoid all this.
HOW IS IT RELEVANT TO FASHION & DENIM?
You guessed it right! Intersectional Environmentalism is needed in the Fashion industry because it negatively affects both the planet and the people. There is a lot of fantastic research in terms of materials, production techniques, and energy, but far too often, this is not connected with communities' rights. There are also design issues: clothes are not made for people of all body shapes and disabilities.
Decolonising Fashion, yes, sorry, another big term for the day.
Have you ever looked at a map of the fashion supply chain? Isn't that a bit too similar to the stream of products that were taken from colonies? The fashion industry has identified opportunities for cheap labour in countries that used to be colonies, which are now also affected by the environmental consequences of having factories. To decolonize fashion is to stop the exploitation and extraction of both people and the planet.
WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF PROJECTS?
◦ The Slow Factory project was started by Celine Semaan, fighting against racism and climate change in fashion through education, action, reports, and scientific innovation. In their 'Open Innovation' section, you can find hour-long lessons, and in their 'Landfill as Museum' section, there is an excellent explanation of all the issues behind landfills. ◦ Oak & Acorn is the first sustainable denim-based brand made in Harlem, New York, USA. The genderless, luxury denim pays homage to the untold history of the Indigenous American & the enslaved African's contributions that have shaped American manufacturing & American Denim. ◦ Denim Expert is the first company in Bangladesh that included the transgender community in the mainstream workplace with Bandhu Social Welfare Society's help. Not just transgender, the company has a unique programme for employing disabled people and trafficking survivors. ◦ Glow is a brand making mostly crochet items that partner with women's groups and charities. Glow's pieces are hand-crocheted by skilled BAMER (Black, Asian, minority ethnic, and refugee). ◦ Custom Collaborative is an entrepreneurship development program that trains low-income and immigrant communities to launch fashion careers and businesses using repurposed and upcycled textiles. ◦ Back Beat is a brand that produces all its clothes in LA with sustainable fabrics such as hemp, recycled and organic cotton. By controlling production directly, the brand can make sure that there is no discrimination and exploitation along the supply chain. We love this vintage-inspired plant-dyed jumpsuit. ◦ At Edwin USA, women make up 65% of the team, including top-level executives. The team consists of people of many different backgrounds, and Edwin is committed to improving recruiting and hiring strategies and increasing the team's diversity as they grow. In addition, EDWIN USA's digital magazine highlights women, POC and those from the LGBTQ+ community. There is plenty of amazing content out there if you want to educate yourself, and who doesn't want to keep learning to improve 🤷♀️ One of Simply Suzette's favourite resources is: https://www.intersectionalenvironmentalist.com/ Or follow activists on Instagram like: @aditimayer @intersectionalenvironmentalist @celinecelines BONUS: a lot more links at the bottom of this page!