Believe me, as a female college student there’s nothing I love more than brands like Forever21 and Fashion Nova. They’re cheap, trendy, and arrive fast enough to throw together a Halloween costume the week before. But fast fashion is having major consequences on the environment. Over 85 percent of clothes end up in landfills. That means Americans alone produce over 11 billion pounds of clothing waste every year. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives that help to save the planet, save your wallet, and save your style, too!
Adopt, Don’t Shop
Although buying from mass retailers is often cheap and easy, there are tons of clothes in vintage and consignment shops that are looking for new homes. Shopping secondhand gives you the opportunity to find one-of-a-kind pieces that no one else on campus will be rocking. These often come at a better price than buying the brands full price. Downtown Lewisburg has a huge array of stores full of hidden treasures. Wilson Ross sells a mix of new and vintage clothing, with a wide selection of vintage jewelry, retro dresses, and silk scarves practically made to tie in your hair or wear as a bandeau. Leslie’s Closet, formerly Mimi’s Boutique, is known for some killer secondhand finds. My favorite purchases have been a silk Japanese robe and $15 fur boots I later found out sold online for $400. Delta W is a new thrift store downtown definitely worth keeping an eye out for. They sell vintage records, retro t-shirts, and colorblock windbreakers straight out of the eighties.
Show Your Clothes Some TLC
One of the best ways to reduce clothing waste is by finding ways to better preserve the clothes you already have. Extend the life of your favorite pieces by learning how to mend tears or by finding a seamstress who will perform minor alterations. Often it’s cheaper to fix a high-quality dress, including having it taken in or out to reflect weight change than it is to buy an entirely new dress. Another way to show your clothes some love is by taking laundry day seriously. Washing your clothes on a lower temperature will prevent wear and tear. Bras and other delicates should be washed in laundry bags and allowed to air dry.
I’ll be the first to admit it, we can learn a thing or two from the French. French women are renowned for their classic and timeless style. Their secret? Quality over quantity. Buying simple, high-quality pieces isn’t just fashionable, it’s sustainable. Trendy pieces from Forever21 are typically worn two-three times before they’re thrown away, while a good quality leather jacket will last for a lifetime. When natural materials like cotton, silk, and leather are ethically sourced, they are far kinder to the environment than synthetic fabrics like polyester, which are obtained from oil and don’t easily break down.
Turn Trash into Treasure
Keeping clothes out of landfills profits more than just the environment. Apps like Depop serve as an online marketplace for reselling clothes. But this isn’t like the stuff your mom buys on eBay. Depop is set up like an Instagram so you can like, save, and comment on clothing you like. Selling your clothes is as easy as making a post. I’ve made hundreds of dollars selling things I forgot were in my closet. Depop is a hotspot for trending styles; you can find everything from thrifted pieces to vintage athleticwear, rare designer labels, and pieces sold out everywhere.