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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bentley chapter.

Growing up, whenever someone asked me what my favorite thing about Thanksgiving was I always said Black Friday. Turkey is great and all but to me, nothing was better than going out at midnight, waiting in terribly long lines at checkout, and coming home with bags upon bags of clothes.

But with today’s focus on sustainability, I’ve come to realize that Black Friday isn’t as great as it seems. With our current age of ‘fast fashion,’ Black Friday doesn’t just mean getting great deals on clothes – it also means getting even closer to irreversible climate change.

So Why’s Black Friday So Bad?

Now I love a sale just as much as the next person, but sales – especially on Black Friday and Cyber Monday – cause unnecessary spending and overconsumption. Think about it – do you use Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales as an excuse to buy those shoes you really want but don’t actually need? Or do you love the thrill of Black Friday so much that you end up leaving the store with so many clothes that you probably won’t end up wearing? In our lifetimes, so many of our clothes end up in the trash or in a donation bin and even then, 84% of donated clothing ends up in landfills according to the EPA. Doesn’t feel so good now, does it?

And let’s not even talk about fast fashion. Brands like Shein, Forever 21, Zara, and H&M are notorious for their quick reactions to current styles and trends and, in turn, causing tons of pollution. According to the Princeton Student Climate Initiative at Princeton University, the fashion industry produces more carbon emissions each year than international flights and maritime shipping combined. This might sound crazy but think about it – so much energy and water is used to produce just one article of clothing. And in case that wasn’t bad enough, today’s synthetic clothing materials not only add to these emissions, but also harm wildlife with their chemical makeups when they are discarded.

That Sucks, but What can I do?

Obviously consumerism is not the Earth’s best friend, but does this mean we have to stop shopping altogether? Of course not! There are so many ways to shop sustainably, plus new habits you can adopt when looking through your closet:

  • Steer clear of cheap, fast fashion brands: Clothing from these brands are usually low quality and less likely to hold up after many wears, increasing their chances of ending up in the trash.
  • Opt for more sustainably-made pieces: Typically smaller brands or high-end brands will have more sustainable and ethical practices when it comes to making their pieces. While these items will definitely come with a higher price tag, these pieces tend to be higher quality and hold up well overtime – meaning that you can get more wears out of every item and more bang for your buck.
  • Rethink how much clothes you need in your closet: While having dozens of jackets and an endless collection of shoes sounds wonderful, it’s really not that sustainable. So many clothing items go unworn and end up crumpled away at the back of closets and dressers until they are eventually thrown away or donated. Save yourself some money and start being realistic about how much clothes you actually need.
  • Go for basics: It’s super fun to shop the newest trends on the runway, but so many of these fads go out of style so quick. Remember Bean Boots? And PINK sweatshirts? These are just examples of niche pieces that only stay popular for short amounts of time before collecting dust in closets and on shelves. When you’re shopping in-store or online, think about what pieces will stay in style forever. Basic pieces and wardrobe staples are hard to go wrong with.
  • Shop sustainably: So what if after looking at your closet, you genuinely do need to buy new clothes? Shop sustainably! This can look like thrifting, buying clothes from friends who are trying to offload some pieces, or even just choosing more eco-friendly shipping methods like opting for all your items to be shipped together in one package rather than multiple! We shouldn’t have to stop shopping, we just need to shop better.

So when you’re eating Thanksgiving dinner this year and thinking about all the things you’re grateful for, remember how grateful we should be for our planet – and make sure your shopping cart knows that too.

Hi everyone! My name is Banmai Huynh and I am from Chelmsford, MA. I'm a Corporate Finance and Accounting major at Bentley University in Waltham, MA and I’m the President of our Her Campus Chapter. I joined Her Campus because I think it's a great creative outlet for college students. I like writing about my personal experiences, opinions, and recommendations! Thanks for reading!