Is Your Organization’s Swag Ethically Sourced?
We have Options for You to Buy Ethically Responsible Merch
Welcome to our Buy Your Values monthly e-newsletter for the month of June to inform our supporters about the progress we’re making in getting ethical and sustainable merchandise into our ASUCLA bookstore that better reflects our progressive values. We also are announcing our intention to begin outreach and work with student organizations on campus in directing them towards ethical and sustainable choices.
For those who don’t know, Buy Your Values is a collective of UCLA students who want our bookstore to reflect our values by supporting ethical and sustainable apparel and other merchandise at the store. We are working with other student organizations on campus and across the country that are interested in similar work.
In the last month, we have continued our work with UCLA Trademarks and Licensing and the ASUCLA Bookstore in talks of a pilot purchasing and marketing program at the bookstore. In the meantime, we have been exploring other potential retail options for ethical options, such as creating a student-run e-commerce store, or potentially directing our focus to vendors such as the Westwood Village Store.
We want to announce our intention to build relationships with cultural/political organizations across campus, and make connections between their important work and our project. We are targeting organizations that host cultural nights and graduations for their communities, and orient planners towards purchasing from ethically-sourced brands.
Our steps for this work will consist of providing organizations with resources to direct student organizations towards transparent supply chains, sustainable merchandise, and companies/cooperatives that value their workers. We would be providing these resources in the form of a standards checklist and a list of companies/cooperatives to purchase from, along with support in questions during the planning process. Our second tool to offer would be directly student organizations to The Green Initiative Fund (link at http://tgif.ucla.edu/), a student-fee financed fund for organization expenses or programming which shows a commitment to sustainability and ethical labor standards within the event planning. These two tools will be used as the education and subsidy to encourage cultural event-planning to support an ethical garment industry.
Did you know branded merchandise for colleges is a $4.6 billion per year business? And that the ASUCLA bookstore sells over $20 million a year? We want to make sure that our money is going to ethical companies that care about their workers, not exploited workers who are paid poverty wages. We can do better.
To learn more about our movement, click here.
Our progress to date:
Workshop: Dec. 7, 2020 - We facilitated a workshop with over 70 attendees featuring different ethical clothing manufacturers and distributors such as Alta Gracia, Ethix Merch, and Carolina Textile District to discuss the importance of supporting workers’ rights and worker democracy at the factory level.
Presentation: March 12, 2021 - We presented to the ASUCLA Board of Directors Services Committee about a pilot program proposal to support ethical brands. We got the green light to proceed in talks with the ASUCLA bookstore.
Survey: Gathered over 150 responses to our student-purchasing-practices survey that showed, among other things, the importance of aesthetics and cost when buying clothes.
Bookstore: Met with ASUCLA bookstore management multiple times and presented a pilot program to get $10,000 worth of ethically produced merchandise into the store by Fall 2021. We will scale up the program as we are successful.
Panels: May 15, 2021 - We partnered with the Garment Worker Center, UCLA Labor Center, Student Labor Advocacy Project, Unravel, Refine LA, FAST at UCLA, and United Students Against Sweatshops to talk about worker justice and its necessary intersections with sustainability, immigrant justice, and other movements. The event also sought to create connections between student orgs and community orgs, for the Garment Worker Center’s campaign for SB 62, the Garment Worker Protection Act (petition link here).
Creating Demand: Now the hard work begins. Creating consumer and student demand for socially responsible merchandise where workers are lifted up and their communities made stronger with good jobs and support a living environment. We can do this! Will you join us here?
Lastly, per our collaboration with them back in March, we would like to shout out some victories of the Garment Worker Center’s (https://garmentworkercenter.org/) campaign for SB62, better known as the Garment Worker Protection Act, fighting for an end to piece-rate wages among other rights. In the last month, the bill has passed the CA Senate floor, the Assembly Labor Committee, and has secured numerous endorsements from small companies/cooperatives. Onto the Assembly and the Governor’s desk!
Thank you for reading this far. Sign up here for our e-newsletter and email us for a presentation to your group at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll show you how easy it is to Buy Your Values!