Clothes for a Change---> Take
Action---> Campus Activism
Fair made and organic cotton
clothing provides a sustainable alternative to the conventional
collegiate apparel industry. Bringing fair made organic cotton
clothing to our campuses is an important step towards replacing
environmentally and socially exploitive products with sustainable
products. It is a feasible goal that can be incorporated into
ongoing campaigns, used to recruit new student activists, and
to network labor, environmental, social justice, agricultural
and other campus organizations. It's also a great opportunity
to gain support for these issues from other students, faculty
and staff. Fair made organic cotton clothing is environmentally
sustainable, socially just, and most times, independently monitored
- all of which are essential components of a democratic global
HOW TO START A CAMPAIGN
- Investigate where the collegiate clothing in your bookstore
comes from. Survey who supplies your campus. Figure out whom on
you campus makes the collegiate apparel purchasing decisions.
Often times there is a Clothing Manager who is under contract
with a larger company. Independent bookstores are usually run
by their own managers and have more leeway in making purchasing
- Investigate how student groups purchase their event t-shirts.
Find out who supplies your campus with student event t-shirts.
Figure out whom on your campus makes the event t-shirt purchasing
decisions. Often times a student group will be organized and funded
by the Associated Students (or similar body)., Independent student
groups not bound by campus policies may have more leeway in purchasing
- Start mobilizing a coalition Local activist groups can incorporate
this campaign into existing work, or you may need to start you
own coalition. Environmental and anti-sweatshop groups will play
a significant role. The OCA will provide, leaflets, educational
materials and s advice if needed..
- Educate your community to gather consumer support and awareness.
* Table in your student union and give out education materials,
get people to sign petitions and send letters to the appropriate
* Ask other groups if you can table at their events.
* Ask student groups if you can come and talk to them about purchasing
organic fair made cotton t-shirts for their next event.
* Invite a speaker to come and educate your campus community and
be a guest on your college radio station.
* Hold a movie night and show a video.
* Get an article about the Campus Campaign published in your local
and campus papers.
* Get professors to let you talk about organic fair made clothing
in relevant classes.
- Define your campaign goals for the collegiate apparel market.
1. If your campus-clothing supplier already offers a line of organic
fair made collegiate clothes, all you have to do is get them to
offer it to your campus.
2. If your supplier does not carry such a line, you should pressure
them to start offering a line of organic fair made collegiate
clothes. It they won't, then ask your school to switch a company
3. Your group will also have to decide: do you want to get the
school to offer ONE line of organic fair made collegiate clothes
as an option for students, or do you want a comprehensive purchasing
restriction, so that ALL collegiate apparel in your bookstore
has to be fair made and organic? This will depend on the political
climate of your school and the strength of your coalition. Many
schools won't mind adding an additional product but shy away from
replacing existing contracts. Once you get your administration
to bring in one offering, it may be harder to build up momentum
later to pass a purchasing restriction. Set your demands high
so that you have room to negotiate.
- Define your campaign goals for student event t-shirts.
1. If your local screen printer already offers organic fair made
cotton t-shirts, all you have to do is get them to offer these
shirts to your campus clubs.
2. If your screen printer does not carry such a line, you may
want to pressure them to start offering a line of organic fair
made cotton t-shirts. It they won't, then you should find a screen
printer that does.
3. Your group will also have to decide: do you want to get the
school to support organic fair made cotton event t-shirts as an
option for students, or do you want a comprehensive purchasing
restriction, such that ALL student event t-shirts purchased with
student fees have to be fair made and organic? This will also
depend on the political climate of your school and the strength
of your coalition. Many schools won't mind supporting the cause,
but may shy away from placing a purchasing restriction upon the
use of student fees. Set your demands high so that you have room
- Meet with your management, student council, and elected officers.
Bring in a written letter that addresses your concerns, what you're
asking as well as background materials about the Campus Campaign,
a researched list of companies that offer organic fair made cotton
clothes, news clippings about organic cotton, hundreds of petition
signatures, and stories about the impact of sweatshop labor and
conventional cotton faming. Take their considerations seriously;
they will want to know about costs; availability and design limitations;
how the monitoring works. They will want to be sure it doesn't
create new paperwork for them. Try to get them to see how important
it is for environmental and social justice reasons, and they'll
be more likely to take you seriously. Let them know that you will
help them promote and build demand for the clothing when they
make the switch.
- Organize creative actions with your coalition, coordinate your
efforts with the OCA's Clothes for a Change campaign, and try
to get media coverage of your campaign.. Participate actively
in the OCA's Clothes for a Change campaign on your campus. Let
your campus community know that you are serious about bringing
organic fair made cotton clothes to your campus. Set up a website
and use mass media to educate people about your campaign. Let
your school administration and student government officers know
you are holding them accountable. Use your allies- who in Student
Government or procurement offices might support you? Find out
if you can do a ballot initiative or a binding legislative bill
rather that a nonbonding resolution? Use peer pressure- they can't
say it's impossible if other schools are already doing it. We
can supply you with a list of colleges that currently offer organic,
fair made cotton clothes. And remember, call us if you need any
assistance or ideas- we're here to support your campaign!
Contact OCA at 218-226-4164
for more info
or to tell us about your efforts!
All information provided by the Sustainable Cotton