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Why Intersectional Environmentalism In Fashion Matters

by: Rosie Dalton | 1 month ago | Features

Image: Art by @kikamack for Intersectional Environmentalist.

Intersectional environmentalism is perhaps one of the most important movements in fashion right now. But what does it actually mean – and why does it matter in fashion supply chains?

According to the progressive @intersectionalenvironmentalist group, this movement is “an inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet. It identifies the ways in which injustices happening to marginalised communities and the earth are interconnected.”

Throughout fashion supply chains, injustices are unfortunately still rife and those happening to the earth are undeniably connected to those against marginalised communities. This is because marginalised groups – particularly people of colour, women, or the economically disadvantaged – and the areas in which they live are more vulnerable to exploitation by powerful corporations.

An example of this is the way that fast fashion clothes are conventionally treated and dyed. According to EcoWatch, there are more than 400 tanneries dumping toxic chromium into the water in Kanpur, India alone. These toxins affect the earth (especially the water supply and, subsequently, the soil) as well as the marginalised communities living in those areas (whose health is compromised by tainted drinking water and agricultural products).

Conventional cotton crops are another example, because they are grown using toxic pesticides, which strip the soil of biodiversity and pollute waterways – thus causing serious reproductive, developmental, immune and neurological harm to the health of local garment workers. According to a report by the Pesticide Action Network, Africa accounts for 8-9% of the world’s cotton market. And, in the West African nation of Burkina Faso, 90% of pesticides are used in cotton.

So fashion's environmental impacts clearly also have human impacts – and the biggest human impacts are being felt by marginalised communities such as people of colour. With this in mind, we need to consider our shopping habits from an intersectional perspective and educate ourselves on these issues, by following groups like @intersectionalenvironmentalist to keep informed.




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