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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

With each new generation, trends emerge, and ultimately define culture for the next few years. With Gen Z, sustainability is in vogue. According to an article by Forbes, Gen Z ranks sustainability as the most important characteristic that goes into buying a product. Brands are taking notice. For the first time, sustainability is on the forefront of marketing. People tend to judge others based on how environmentally friendly they appear. I say appear because protecting nature isn’t as easy as wearing a tote bag.

While staying as sustainable as possible is definitely important, I hesitate to endorse any so-called “green” brands. This is mostly because I know about the dangers of greenwashing. According to Business Insider, greenwashing is when companies act like they’re eco-friendly as a marketing tactic, rather than a promise for sustainability. Companies can greenwash with good intentions, but fail to make real changes. Just because something is sold in a green package with a picture of a leaf on it, doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you or the planet. Brands exploit our genuine passion for environmentalism in order to make better sales.

The best way to be environmentally friendly isn’t to buy greenwashed products, or shopping at brands known for fast fashion like Shein. The best way is to simply reduce our consumption. The less we buy, the less waste we create, the less resources are used up. 

I know it’s hard to hear. Retail therapy is very real. My friends get excited to see a new Amazon delivery or a big sale on Shein. The best thing we can do for the planet, though, is stop our overconsumption. I know no one is perfect, myself included. I also know that it’s impossible to radically transform the world by yourself. If we want to see real change, we need to fundamentally shift our economy and work together to create far reaching solutions. It’s also true that we can do our own small part for the planet. Something is always better than doing nothing, unless we’re talking about consumption, in which case it is better to do nothing. 

Charlotte Tolly

Bradley U '25

Charlotte is a first year user experience design major with a passion for art and writing. In her free time, you can find her baking, reading, or spending time with her friends.
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