This Earth Day we commit to never look the other way
Here’s something to think about...did you know that if modern slavery where a country it would be the third largest producer of CO2 in the world?1
When we talk about environmental sustainability or climate change, often things come to mind like renewable energy, circularity, or trying to remember your totes on a trip to the shops.
But while these conversations are important, what if we could make strides in protecting our planet simply by putting more energy into protecting each other?
We know that there are links between the exploitation of people and ecocide. Ecocide, by definition, is the destruction of the natural environment by deliberate or negligent human action. It diminishes our ability to utilise the Earth’s provisions for enjoyment and sustenance, and for ecosystems to function and flourish.
Ecocide is linked to corporate activity (think the cutting down of rainforests, air filled with pollutants, and dirty garment dyes and agro chemicals running into water systems that local communities rely on). It’s dirty business, literally. And forced labour goes hand in hand with this activity.
Out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labor, 16 million are exploited in the private sector. Vast, complex and opaque global supply chains mean that both human and environmental exploitation are hidden.
If you don’t know where the inputs for your product come from, and how they are extracted or by who, then how can you ensure that no exploitation is taking place?
In short, you can’t.
At Outland Denim, we are proud to have been able to trace our full denim supply chain from Tier 1 (production) to Tier 5 (the cotton seed). When you know the source of your materials, you can better understand the who, what and how of their production. And, in turn, you can better ensure that standards are being upheld. Partnerships with suppliers can become mutually beneficial and filter out to the community.
This can give you confidence that as a brand we are doing our due diligence (and more) to ensure each Outland Denim product that lands in your hands hasn’t come at the expense of people or the planet. The standards we set for our own factories and staff also apply to our suppliers.
It’s nothing above and beyond, to simply treat people with the human rights, dignity, and respect that they deserve, and along with it the environments in which they live and work.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), vulnerabilities to climate change and global economic forces are more likely to send people into abject poverty. The people we don’t see at the bottom of supply chains are also the ones on the frontlines environmentally.
Social and environmental injustice are two sides of the same coin.
There has never been a more important time to set a cycle of empowerment in motion that takes both humanity and the environment into account.
You shouldn’t have to know what GOTS, OEKO-TEX, or ZDHC mean to simply go out and buy a pair of jeans - who has the time for that?!
If we are truly serious about ending slavery, reversing the impacts of climate change and protecting ecosystems, we have to look at how they are linked. At Outland our commitment is never to look the other way.
Kevin Bales, author and Professor of Contemporary Slavery at the University of Nottingham, Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World.