Aligning the ASUCLA Bookstore with our Values
Consumer Activists Push for Ethical Merchandise, Sustainable Choices
Welcome to our first Buy Your Values monthly e-newsletter 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.
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.
For the last six months, Buy Your Values UCLA has been busy! We’ve created a collective of a dozen core activists who meet twice a month. We’ve hosted workshops, been on panels, created a website and social media channels, and are establishing relationships with other organizations interested in worker justice on college campuses. We’ve been busy doing outreach and educating students on the human cost of their branded merchandise.
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.
The good news is our hard work and dedication is paying off. Already we’ve gotten a commitment from the ASUCLA bookstore to work with us to create a modest pilot program of socially responsible merchandise in their stores. Now we have to create the demand and make sure students know about products when they are on the shelves. Will you join us?
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?
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In the next few months, we will be continuing to build this plan in collaboration with the ASUCLA bookstore, UCLA Trademarks and Licensing, and ASUCLA Marketing. By fall 2021, look for ethical and sustainable brands at your bookstore.
And of course we will continue to build relationships with cultural and sustainability 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.
Email us for a presentation to your group. We’ll show you how easy it is to Buy Your Values!