Shop Small, Reduce Your Carbon Footprint


Ashley Balderrama for LAist

DJ Kènè ō doing a set at Black Market Flea

It’s time to slow down on supporting fast fashion brands like H&M, Shein, and FashionNova whenever we can. These brands outsource production via sweatshops in the global south, making production costs significantly lower. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a sweatshop is a factory in which manual workers are employed at meager wages for long hours and under poor working conditions. This can mean hundreds of workers in a small, hot, building, sewing items of clothing for hours at a time while making a fraction of a percent of the money that the corporation is making.

This is what allows brands like Shein and Temu to have products on their sites for less than $20 each, and for them to constantly have “great sales.” Due to the conditions in which these employees are working, a great deal of the items are of lower quality, if not entirely machine-made. As stated by the United Nations Environment Programme, “…it is estimated that people are buying 60 percent more clothes and wearing them for half as long.” While this may seem like an amazing deal to get more bang for your buck, it is more cost-efficient in the long run to invest in more quality pieces that will last you longer.

In the spirit of Earth Day and my pursuit of extending support to more Black-owned businesses, I’ve written this to help anyone to swap their wardrobe (and snacking habits) for more sustainable options.

Every month, there are a few flea markets, swap meets, and markets I like to go to to shop small. Black on the Block is a monthly festival that features 100+ Black-owned businesses. This is one of many opportunities for Black shop owners to grow their business, while also promoting Black excellence and entrepreneurship. Featuring live music, amazing food, fun activities, and special guests, Black on the Block is an amazing opportunity for anyone looking to support small, Black-owned businesses. The next festival is May 21st and you will definitely see me there.

Similarly to Black on the Block, Black Market Flea is another market for Black-owned businesses to promote themselves and sell their amazing, and for the most part handmade, products. Black Market Flea happens once nearly every month, usually on a Saturday, here in Los Angeles. Owners of businesses all over Los Angeles come together to show off their artistry through clothing, wellness products, music, and traditional art including paintings and prints. The Black Market Flea has a rich and inspirational story and continues to be one of the most highly anticipated Black events every month.

I personally went to the Black Market Flea in January of this year and was able to support one of my favorite Black-owned businesses, Proper Tone. His handmade clothing is inspired by textiles sourced from his widespread travels, and poetry that he has written. His artistry is inspiring to many others, which can be seen with unwavering support from not only myself but many others across Los Angeles. You can find him at the Rose Bowl Flea Market, Black on the Block, and Black Market Flea, all events usually held once a month on varying days.

So this year, on my journey to cycling out fast fashion practices in my own household, I have been shopping small to reduce my carbon footprint. May you be inspired to do the same.