There’s something unique about California. Yes, I’m aware this isn’t a revelation. There are about a million books and movies and songs I can reference to back up my case. After all, you are currently reading from a publication based upon the beauty and pride of this place we’re lucky to call home. The beauty, however, is specific in its combination. California is a grand concoction of nature and culture, seamlessly intertwining the two.
Last Friday came and went like any other. However, the fleeting April Day was a special one: Earth Day. As we tried our best to switch from staring at screens to green scenery, the holiday served as a gentle reminder. Every day is Earth Day, and every day should come in the same celebratory fashion. In California, it’s easy to take it all for granted. The nature and culture of this state are always present, yet simultaneously forgotten. So, as we reflect on Earth Day’s passing yet ever-presence, I find it important to think about a few things in particular.
There are two things we do every day as humans that affect ourselves and our natural world. These are the choices of what we eat and what we wear. Yes, California is known for its natural parks, beautiful beaches, and rolling hills, but it’s also known for its huge impact on cultural trends in the fashion and culinary world. More specifically, The Bay Area of Northern California has a massive influence on all the above. From the counterculture flower-power movements of the 1960s, to farm-to-table cooperation style establishments, The Bay Area has always been concerned with adding new and sustainable practices into daily life and culture. However, with an overall increase of harmful norms that have massive effects on climate change, it’s become imperative that places like The Bay Area do their best to trend-set the right way.
One of the largest contributors to climate change is the presence of fast fashion or the rapid production of clothing at high volume. A simple celebration that many of us do every day is self-expression. Specifically, we celebrate ourselves and the world around us in the clothing that we wear. So, it is imperative to preserve this culture while simultaneously preserving the natural world. Luckily, the Bay Area is home to an organization in action combating this. EthiCAL Apparel is a UC Berkeley student-run project that makes sustainable clothing that is just as fashionable as it is good for the world. The majority of the proceeds for their orders are donated to local charities and organizations in The Bay Area, and by using organic cotton and fair-trade manufacturing practices, the organization ensures that they are providing style in a sustainable way. They also design custom apparel and work directly with customers, making the entire line uniquely self-expressive.
Similarly, another day-in and day-out impact we have on the world around us is our food choices. Beyond just our palette and preferences, the entire system of food production, food retailing and food waste is crucial to consider when examining environmental impact. Rainbow Grocery follows a specific trend of Northern California while going even further, being a fully worker-owned grocery store that sells sustainably sourced vegetarian foods. The co-op style popularized in the Bay Area takes away the centralized power of major corporations, many of which have massive carbon footprints and impacts on the environment at large. Further, the 45-year-old grocery store has been sourcing products from local farmers, cutting down emissions from food travel, and being able to offer fresh produce to customers at a low cost. This vegetable-forward practice is not only undeniably positive for a cleaner future, but it’s also in alignment with the culture of the Bay Area that has been influential for years.
Although Earth Day 2022 is behind us, there is so much to consider as we look forward. While it may seem that putting on a pair of jeans, grabbing an apple and sitting in Dolores Park is just a normal, non-impactful practice, these choices both influence the future of our planet and should serve as a reminder of just how California you are. Thanks to organizations like EthiCAL and Rainbow Grocery, we don’t have to trade in our favorite trends to make the world a little easier to exist in.
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