MOVING FROM SUPPLY CHAINS TO RECIPROCAL NETWORKS

This November 22nd to 29th, we are joining Reclaim Collaborative in a campaign designed to redistribute a percentage of total sales from Black Friday weekend to Black and Indigenous led environmental organizations.

BLACK FRIDAY, THANKSGIVING + EXTRACTIVE CAPITALISM

Thanksgiving is steeped in America’s history of genocide and theft from Indigenous people. The weekend of frenzied consumerism that follows further contributes to issues of racism and classism in this country. With pandemic supply chain challenges and a climate crisis at hand, over-production and the extreme destructiveness of extractive capitalism clearly evident. It has never been more important to return land and resources to those who have cultivated a healing relationship with the earth and all her inhabitants. 

Thanksgiving is a day nominally recognized as a time for family and gratitude, but in fact is a celebration of some of the most horrific aspects of the US’s history and founding. It is not surprising then, that Black Friday, the day that follows is marked by frenzied and mindless consumerism. While Black Friday is purported to be rooted in gift giving, it instead has allowed consumers to practice willful ignorance to the realities of the so called “supply chain,” and who their purchases are really affecting. While the average customer is not the cause of the world’s woes, we can each examine and use the power and privilege that we have to make change. We can each purchase with more care for the people behind the products that we buy, and pay more attention to how our purchases hurt the earth and those most vulnerable. While conscious consumerism is not the only answer, it is a step in a journey of understanding how extractive capitalism has jeopardized what is most important: our communities and the environment on which we all depend.

 The Reclaim Black Friday campaign asks customers to not only consider how to purchase more consciously, but also examine the ways that we can contribute to systemic and cultural change to rectify the underlying harms that caused the environmental and social crises we are now facing.

models wearing the hand knit maleng sweater made using upcycled textile scraps

The Maleng sweater is hand knit using upcycled 'yarn' created from textile scraps as part of tonlé's environmentally mindful zero waste process. Image: @pais.agency

OUR RESOURCES ARE FINITE

The fragility of supply chains didn’t start with the pandemic. Next time you hear about supply chain issues, think the over 100 pairs of hands who touched each garment you buy. Think about all the raw materials that are in dwindling supply due to climate change. Think about all the factories that had to close due to loss of business from brands. These same brands are now going back to factories and are not able to get product. We know about shipping containers lined up in ports, but do we know about how many factories simply cannot produce because of dwindling resources or because they have faced so much extraction over the years that they could not afford to stay in business? 

 Resources are finite. The earth gives us so much and yet it is squandered by a select few while many struggle to survive.  

 At tonlé, we use what is locally available to us in Cambodia: garment factory waste. This helps to reduce a demand for new materials and cleans up the environment. But these resources are still limited: sometimes, we can’t get the fabric that we want and have to change to another color. Over the past year, we’ve also had many of our team take additional leave to protect themselves or a loved one from Covid. As a result of both factors as well as other unforeseen challenges, our production has been even more limited this year. 

 We can’t produce an infinite amount of clothes, and we shouldn’t. We want people to treasure each of our pieces. We live on a planet with finite resources, and it’s important to share them in gratitude and reciprocity for what the earth and our community has shared with us.  

Aguineth holding an armful of dried flowers wearing the Makara sweater

We can’t produce an infinite amount of clothes, and we shouldn’t. We live on a planet with finite resources, and it’s important to share them in gratitude and reciprocity for what the earth has shared with us. Image: Aguineth in the Makara sweater by @pais.agency

RECIPROCITY + GRATITUDE 

The works of Robin Wall Kimmerer have contributed deeply to our understanding of reciprocity in our business, and the intention to build a business in which everyone thrives. In honor of her work and this week, here are a few of her words about gratitude and reciprocity published in Humans and Nature. 

 “We are showered every day with the gifts of the Earth, gifts we have neither earned nor paid for: air to breathe, nurturing rain, black soil, berries and honeybees, the tree that became this page, a bag of rice and the exuberance of a field of goldenrod and asters at full bloom.

Though the Earth provides us with all that we need, we have created a consumption-driven economy that asks, “What more can we take from the Earth?” and almost never “What does the Earth ask of us in return?”

For much of human’s time on the planet, before the great delusion, we lived in cultures that understood the covenant of reciprocity, that for the Earth to stay in balance, for the gifts to continue to flow, we must give back in equal measure for what we take.

We human people have protocols for gratitude; we apply them formally to one another. We say thank you. We understand that receiving a gift incurs a responsibility to give a gift in return. The next step in our cultural evolution, if we are to persist as a species on this beautiful planet, is to expand our protocols for gratitude to the living Earth. Gratitude is most powerful as a response to the Earth because it provides an opening to reciprocity, to the act of giving back.

 Let us live in a way that Earth will be grateful for us.” 

models wearing the kanya quilted jacket

Aguineth and Domingas in the kanya quilted jacket and teavy sweatshirt dress, captured by @pais.agency

THE REDISTRIBUTION PLEDGE 

This is the intention behind the redistribution pledge. It’s a act of gratitude for our community who has supported us, and for the people who have historically taken care of the earth on which we depend. It is part of our commitment to build a future where everyone thrives.

We are offering 20% off all purchases and 15% redistributed to two organizations, @black.thumb.farm and @realrentduwamish, from November 22nd – 29th. Follow along at @Reclaimcollaborative to learn more. Use the code: RECLAIMBLACKFRIDAY.⁠

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