This year’s Wear Justice Festival put on by PLNU’s Center for Justice and Reconciliation (CJR), shifts its focus from a vendor centered day to educating students on how to make small changes towards more ethical buying. Along with the return of the Patagonia repair program, students can learn the basics of knitting or embroidery, which can allow them to create new items or upcycle owned clothes rather than buying new things.
This second annual event focuses on fair trade purchasing, which the Fairtrade Foundation describes as having better prices, working conditions, sustainability and fair terms of trade.
“Fair trade is really important, not just to the clothing industry but to the people behind it. Having this introduction with Wear Justice is just so powerful and important because it gives people a glimpse into that,” said freshman political science major Lauren Horton, a CJR ambassador.
Last year’s Wear Justice event gave students an opportunity to swap clothes and browse fair trade vendors, and, according to Director for the CJR Jamie Gates, it “was innovative, creative, high energy and had strong participation.” However, this year will feature only two vendors, with a stronger focus on skills and repair of clothing.
“Part of creating a more loving economy is moving away from over-consumption of cheap commodities made under exploitative conditions and reconnecting us to the skills of making things together and for each other,” Gates said. “Learning to make clothes is also an act of solidarity, learning what it takes for others whose lives toil away to put clothes on our backs.”
According to junior sociology major and CJR student staff member, Elaine Giles, this week can serve as an introduction to a much larger issue.
“I’ve been realizing through this process that it’s so big and so culturally ingrained that this is the beginning of a conversation. Hopefully, this can start some really good conversations around it, and that will be a process,” Giles said.
For students looking to shop more ethically, Danielle Jorgensen, a freshman international studies major and CJR ambassador, suggests starting small.
“Fairtrade can be kind of expensive, so the first step can be evaluating your habits now, and then looking and seeing what the alternative to your current habits is,” Jorgensen said. “So for shopping, the alternative can be thrifting, or going to a coffee shop, maybe choosing a more local brand than a chain that’s not sourced ethically.”
As part of this week’s events, CJR is running two Instagram competitions through April 12. A Patagonia jacket will be given to the student with the best photo of a Wear Justice sticker, and those who enter the story competition will be entered in a raffle for two Disneyland Park Hopper passes.
On Thursday, April 11, CJR will show a series of short films on different aspects of fair trade with student speakers, followed by the Wear Justice fair and clothing swap April 12.