Green Currency: So what did you see in Kenya that strengthened your environmental resolve?
Tereneh Mosley: The first community service project I did there was a famine relief walk. The people there told me how there’s droughts, the rains have changed, the way people have been farming and the agricultural calendar people used for thousands of years have changed. and so theres people who dont have food. So you see people who have survived quite well for thousands of years living where they live then suddenly they can’t grow the food that they used to grow. And then you see places like Mathare, a huge slum in Nairobi, where outwards of almost a million people who live there, but most don’t have access to running water. They get their water shipped in by tankers and end up paying more than I did for water.
GC: What do you think it will take for the masses to get that, or to care in the same way?
TM: I think it is a process. I was talking to a person who has been buying organic cotton from Kenya and Uganda for their jeans. I asked, ‘How do we do this?’ because making new clothes is consuming. And there’s something to be said about not making any new clothes at all. His response was, ‘As an artist, as someone who creates what else are you going to do? What else can you create?’ I said that this is all that I want to do. He said, ‘If this is all you want to do, and you have a consciousness about it then you have to do it like this, you have to do it ethical.’ I thought, but everything can’t be ethical, but he believed that we have to take little steps.
So maybe we do a 80/20 organic cotton blend so that we’re supporting this whole process, and then maybe in 10 years it’s 100 percent organic. Then we let people know not just in a “We are the World” kinda way, but just, this is who you are buying your cotton from. The only way organic cotton jeans won’t be 200 dollars is if supply increases, but right now there isn’t enough demand for it.
It can’t be a situation where I’m guilted into buying it. It has to be a thing where I have the option to buy 200 dollar jeans so I’m going to do that in hopes that in 15 years or less, that every jean that Gap or Wal-mart makes is organic. Where we are now in 2009, we’re at the frontlines of the ethical fashion movement.
Be Mockâ€™D is one of PLRâ€™s featured contributors on the environment, politics and how the hood gets mocked by both. Read the rest of his opinions here.