What is Environmental Racism?

In our last post, we outlined our plan to help combat social injustices. While we touched on the significance of accessibility from multiple dimensions, we did not directly label a type of inequality that plagues our society and directly influences the work we do at Cerer: environmental racism. The conventional fashion industry is one of the leading contributors to global pollution, and while the consequences of pollution ultimately threaten all of humanity, it poses a higher risk to primarily Black and low income communities in the United States. A 2016 study in Environment International revealed that Black people are exposed to 1.5 times more particulate matter than white people. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The New England Journal of Medicine released a study in 2017 stating Black communities are three times more likely to die from exposure to air pollution than white people.  Around 70% of the nation's contaminated waste sites are established near low-income housing that compromise air and water quality. These statistics make it disturbingly apparent the gross imbalance between race and one’s access to a clean environment. 

Our mission to eliminate the unsustainable practices within the fashion world requires us to delve deeper into not only how our clothes are being made, but what community they are being made in and the effect our practices pose to it. This starts with manufacturing location. We must guarantee the location of our production sites are thoughtfully placed so that the environmental burden does not fall on BIPOC and that the surrounding neighborhood does not suffer due to its proximity to the site. This in turn transfers to our practices. We will accept nothing short of our expectations in producing clean clothing that minimizes water usage, and eliminates unnecessary contamination to the air and water sources.

Fashion should symbolize freedom, not just in its final stage of presentation, but at its origin too.  Environmental racism strips BIPOC of literally our (human beings’) MOST basic right: clean and free access to air, water and other natural resources. Cerer’s guiding principle is dismantling the barriers preventing environmentally conscious, affordable and ethical clothing. We would not be fulfilling our core purpose if we were not actively pushing ourselves to diminish fashion’s repercussions on humanity. 

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