After a while, however, Mendiola encountered further challenges. Attending blogger events and conferences surrounding sustainability, she often found herself to be the only person of colour in the room: “In the sustainability space, there aren’t many women that look like me. This motivates me even more to make my voice and experiences heard. My ultimate goal is to raise awareness about sustainable options within my demographic. That’s why I try to take the role of an educator. I want to give my community access to knowledge about sustainable practices that will benefit the planet and their loved ones in the long run.”
If you now catch yourself thinking, ‘What is the problem? All the information is accessible on the internet for the whole world to read’, then think again. To understand this complex issue, one must first understand the relationship that racial inequality has with class and education. Unfortunately, social structures still discriminate against ethnic minorities. Whilst all-white households in the U.S. have an average net worth of $162,770 at their disposal, African-American households possess funds of an abysmally minute $16,300. In short, poverty is much more prevalent amongst those with a darker complexion. It is not difficult to imagine then, that taking the time to google sustainable fashion brands in depth that you cannot afford anyway is probably not at the top of your priority list if you are a mother working double shifts to buy food and clothes for your children. Similarly, children might be pressured to take up a job as soon as their mandatory education is finished, depriving them from the luxury of further studies, where they would develop their critical thinking and learn about society’s structures and systems. Thus, inclusivity must also be about giving equal access and opportunities to marginalised communities. Whether it be the pricing of sustainable brands or the lack of organic products in certain neighborhoods, we must reexamine how sustainable options can be made accessible to everyone.