What do voting and being a sustainable fashion blogger have in common? As a sustainable fashion blogger who also gets to the ballot box every election, my answer is: a lot more than you might think.
There are two approaches to sustainable fashion: holding corporations responsible and focusing on what we, as individuals, can do. And while the two certainly aren’t mutually exclusive, I like to focus on what I can do. Because while corporations need to do their part in stemming the tide of fast fashion and working towards a sustainable future, the actions we take as individuals matters.
When I used to choose to purchase lots of clothes every year to keep up with the latest fashions, I was contributing to a cycle of styles going in and out of fashion quickly, leading to a lot of wasted clothes once the style went lukewarm. When I bought new instead of prioritizing great finds at thrift stores, I wasn’t prioritizing reducing waste. Now I concentrate on how I can make a difference in my actions towards creating a sustainable fashion industry. Reframing how I approach fashion has made me better able to understand how we can reframe the entire industry to be more sustainable.
I grew up voting, but I just didn’t feel like my vote really mattered. What did my one vote really do, out of the millions cast in the country? Who’s really listening to me? Who really cares what I have to say?
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve recognized that small actions snowball into larger ones. My investment into transforming the way I approach fashion morphed into a sustainable fashion blog, which I hope has inspired other people to shift how they approach fashion, too. It’s prepared me to start taking on how we can transform fashion companies. Like choosing what we wear and where we shop, voting may be an individual act, but its impact is anything but individualistic.
I think about this a lot—how one act that may seem so small can have a disproportionately large influence. Especially when I think about microaggressions.
As a Black woman, it’s something I’ve had to contend with my whole life. It’s usually small comments that people will brush aside as “just a joke” or by saying “they didn’t mean anything by it.” One example of a microaggression I’ve heard is that slavery happened so long ago. By using length of time as a measure of impact, the people who say this are diminishing the fact that slavery continues to have consequences to this day. (Not to mention that, of course, in the grand scheme of time, slavery actually wasn’t that long ago.)
These small microaggressions help create and permit a larger culture of racism and anti-Blackness in America. This culture, propped up by microaggressions, is what led me to be instantly terrified the day my car broke down and a police officer stopped behind me. I thought to myself: What if I get killed today, just for being here?
This is the culture that leads me to pray for my boyfriend, who’s also Black, every time he goes to work. Because for him and for Black people across the United States, our existence is seen as a liability. It turns out that microaggression isn’t “just a joke.” It actively perpetuates a culture of racism that makes me pray every time my boyfriend walks out the door.
Today, when I think back on my past self who wondered whether my vote could possibly matter, I now think: How could you ever have thought it didn’t?
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People like Karmin are committed to ensuring that injustice is no longer the norm. We must elect officials who won’t stall and who won’t put the lives and livelihoods of millions in danger. Make sure you are registered to vote. Make sure you know how to vote by mail. And make sure you mobilize others to vote as well. Together, we’ll create a better tomorrow.