Sustainable Fashion

The world of “fast fashion” is a trillion dollar industry that thrives off of affordable prices and providing its customers with the latest and greatest trends. The term “fast fashion” is defined as “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.” Every year, over 1 billion articles of clothing are produced, but more than half go straight to the landfills. According to the World Resources Institute, one garbage truck of clothes is burned or sent to landfills every second. Take a second to think about that. Mass production and excessive consumer habits have a significant impact on the very Earth we live in. 

We live in a society defined by consumer habits with a constant desire to want and need more stuff, whether that be clothes, shoes, or beauty products. A kind of societal pressure exists that makes us feel pressured to buy the latest version of the iPhone or newly released Yeezy sweats simply because it’s the trend at the time. We tend to disregard whether or not we actually need that third pair of white sneakers, all we know is that we want them. However, these habits become problematic when individuals overlook the implications their actions and choices have on the state of the environment. Therefore, below I offer a few ways you can implement sustainable fashion into your life and become more conscious of your own consumer habits.

 

1. “Less is more”

Many are hesitant to splurge or buy a more expensive product because money doesn’t grow on trees and as a college student, you have to be smart with the way you spend it. However, that’s where the “less is more” mentality comes into play; buy clothing that lasts. I suggest spending the $60 on a high-quality pair of Levi’s jeans that you know will last, compared to that $10 pair from F21. I would much rather have a few really good pairs instead of several that are just waiting to rip at the seams. In the long run, it saves you money because you are not constantly running to the store to buy a new pair of jeans every two months.

2. Maximize lifecycle

One of the easiest ways to practice sustainable fashion is by making the most out of every article of clothing you buy. Instead of throwing out an old garment because you got tired of it, donate it, or get creative and find new ways to repurpose that piece. Maybe cut those old jeans into a new pair of shorts, or tie-dye that old band-tee to bring it back to life. 

3. Be like Macklemore...go Thrift Shopping

I love thrifting because I know that whatever I buy, I never have to walk into a room and worry about someone else wearing the same exact thing I am. There are so many hidden gems buried beneath those piles of clothing, you just need to have the time and patience to find them. Thrifting is essentially recycling, therefore, it significantly reduces the amount of pollution and waste produced, as well as your own carbon footprint. 

4. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”

Another way you can reduce your contribution to waste is by donating or gifting the pieces that no longer fit you or maybe are no longer your style. You could even download apps such as Poshmark or thredUP to sell your clothes and make some extra cash, kind of like an online thrift store. When I went home over the summer, I joined my communities online garage sale page, which allowed me to post anything I was trying to sell and see what others were offering as well. 

5. Shop Fair Trade fashion brands

In a nutshell, Fair Trade is “a global movement made up of a diverse network of producers, companies, shoppers, advocates, and organizations” who are committed to supporting responsible companies, empowering farmers, workers, fishermen, and protecting the environment. By shopping Fair Trade, you are supporting environmental stewardship, income sustainability, and helping to create safer working conditions. 

 

The fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to high carbon emissions, large amounts of landfill waste, and wastewater production. However, in response to the increasing threat of global warming and climate change, various industries have begun to implement more sustainable practices into their business models. Whether it may be an electric company switching to sustainably sourced energy or grocery stores banning the use of plastic bags, each industry seems to be making an effort to reduce their impact on the environment. Hopefully this is not just another trend, but a commitment to long-lasting, sustainable initiatives that will be practiced for centuries to come.