In the second of our four-part series exploring sustainability, we briefly touch on the importance of building inclusive communities.
Sustainability means inclusion and building community
Developing and harvesting resources in a more sustainable way often has the added benefit of simultaneously creating more inclusive, resilient communities. This is because the altruistic ethos of sustainability -- ensuring that enough resources exist for future generations -- is at odds with the worldview of large-scale, mass production operations that almost always rely on exploiting local populations for cheap, expendable labour.
For this reason, many sustainably developed resources and supply chains are run by smaller, local operations that have been created by communities from the ground up. These operations are created because communities want to retain control over the development of their local resources and have autonomy over their labour. They want to work in ways that are inclusive and contribute to the growth and prosperity of their communities. Purchasing goods that have been created in a sustainable manner often directly contributes to the prosperity of these communities by shifting buying power away from exploitative operations to those that have been created by local farmers or artisans themselves. Prosperity gained from sustainably-produced goods helps small, rural communities control their own destiny and invest in themselves, which helps future generations break the cycle of unsustainable resource use and exploitative labour.
For example, our textiles are produced exclusively by women-run co-operatives in rural communities in Turkey. The artisans that we partner with are paid fairly for their labour, and produce intricate, beautifully hand woven goods from local cotton crops that have been grown organically in a sustainable manner. By purchasing our goods, you’re providing valuable financial empowerment to these artisans by helping to create sustainable livelihoods and job security. In turn, the women that we work with are then able to invest in building their communities.
We know that women are the drivers of sustainable development and powerful agents of change. Evidence from around the world confirms that investing in girls and women creates a ripple effect that yields multiple benefits, not only for individual women, but for families, communities, and countries. Ultimately, the sustainable world that we envision, relies on supporting communities to grow and prosper together.
Sustainability means building equity into businesses
Equity for all people is an important principle and goal of sustainability. Practices and processes that further solidify already-unfair and severe gaps in income, opportunities, resource availability, and education, means that the benefits of a business or development project may only serve to enhance the wealth and privilege of the few-- at the expense of the many, and future generations.
One way to help mitigate these disparities and build a more sustainable world is to invest in, and purchase from women. The more that women’s opportunities are increased, the more that cycles of poverty and exploitation can be weakened. This empowers communities to make more sustainable choices with regards to how their labour and resources are developed, because they are not forced to use their resources in an unsustainable way due to poor labour opportunities and desperation.
In the third part of this series, we’ll look at sustainability on a local scale, by examining how consuming more mindfully contributes to our ability to live more sustainable lives.
-- Stray & Wander Team