XR Finland’s Queer rebels (Queerkapina) initiated a demonstration during Helsinki Pride Week 2020 against rainbow capitalism, pinkwashing and greenwashing. We demonstrated on the biggest shopping street in Helsinki, on social media, and on the show windows of H&M, where 6 rebels glued themselves to the windows in order to address the injustices of fast fashion industry.
Within the current capitalist system, environmental protection and human rights are always secondary to economical profit. The event demanded that companies and world governments must:
Act within Earth’s boundaries: Reach carbon neutrality by 2025 and stop destroying the diversity of nature
Enhance LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized people’s equality concretely and globally
Ensure everyone has safe working conditions and a salary that covers living costs
H&M and other fast fashion industry has a tremendous environmental impact. The greenhouse gas emissions of fashion industry are larger than those of aviation and marine transportation combined (1). Still, H&M promotes their ´Conscious´ brand and wants to appear “green” and “sustainable” while their actions keep destroying our living systems. The greenwashing done by H&M is obvious.
Fashion companies often create their own Pride collections. On year 2019, H&M’s Pride collection was not sold globally, but numerous areas where sexual- and gender minorities are widely harassed where left out (2). On H&M’s web store, when one searches ”Pride” in Finland, plenty of rainbow colored clothes appear. If one does the same in e.g. Saudi Arabia, where homosexual acts and ’cross dressing’ is illegal, no rainbows are found. H&M’s clothing selection also reinforces the gender binary with no queer clothing selection. The pinkwashing done by H&M is obvious.
The supply chain of H&M oppresses its workers. For instance in Bangladesh, workers making clothes for H&M got hardly half of the salary they would need for their living costs (3), and the essential improvements for safe working conditions were severely late (4). The clothes offered to us in Finland are only cheap because of the exploitation of people and the planet in the production process. We need a system change where people can afford sustainably produced clothing.
Pride is not only a great party. Its roots are in direct action against our destructive system. We stand in solidarity with the black trans women that started the Pride-movement, and with the indegenous communities in the frontlines against environmental destruction. As the slogan created by the indigenous people goes: “We are nature defending itself” – The diversity in nature is also diversity in people.