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Mallory May Combats Fast Fashion Through Upcycling Clothes

Mallory May sits at a table focused on trimming her T-shirt that she found at a thrift store earlier during the week. This T-shirt is going to be upcycled for the University of Missouri Homecoming game. She carefully creates a line and begins to trim with her fabric scissors. May frequently thrifts and upcycles her clothing in order to combat the fast fashion industry. An industry that has brought so much waste to the environment. Perfectly good clothing sits in landfills because it is no longer seen as the latest fashion trend.

May’s love for thrifting started began as a mere hobby and a fun treat to enjoy with her grandmothers, stating that it “became our thing,” says May in reference to these outings. 

Sustainability became important to May once she learned about the horrible effects of the fast fashion industry on our planet. These factories mass-produce clothing and exclude workers from livable wages. This clothing is being produced in large quantities and in poor quality. Because of this, today’s clothes are ruined much easier and do not compare to the longevity of those produced with more sustainable materials. 

Factory greenhouse gas emissions are another concern when it comes to fast fashion. These gases are causing harm to our planet and causing climate change. Fast fashion also uses massive amounts of water and energy to produce these new trends.

In order to do her part to help this issue, May began this journey of thrifting clothing so that she can make her own trendy clothes without bringing harm to the planet. 

“I just see articles of clothing and I just kind of have a vision, so I alter them and sew them to be my own original piece,” May says. 

May does not stand alone in her efforts to find a sustainable way to shop. She often invites her friend Eva Carter to join her on her thrifting trips. 

“Mallory is a big environmentalist and so she explained to me why fast fashion is not good for our planet and how thrifting was a better alternative,” Carter says. 

May first begins her journey in a thrift store scanning each aisle closely to find a unique piece. The hangers on the rack sway back and forth with hushed voices in the background. This is where May feels at home. 

She first picks up an old Mizzou T-shirt. May needed a shirt to wear to the Homecoming game at MU next weekend. 

Once she finds a piece of clothing, she searches for others that will make several complete outfits. May also looks for pieces that she can sew together to make something new. 

“I’m still using the original clothing but just kind of making it my own,” May says. 

May frequents Saver’s Thrift Store so often that the staff knows her by name. She believes that Saver’s has a great selection of clothing and accessories that can be used in her upcycling process. 

“We get new stock all the time so it’s not like the same stuff over and over like other retail places,” Charlie, a staff member at Saver’s explains. 

Once May has found her new pieces – this time a pair of navy sweats – she makes her purchase. Savers now has self-checkout, so May types in her phone number for reward points and finishes her transaction. She, of course, has an abundance of reward points from making purchases so often. The sweatpants round out to be about $4 and will be used for years, and the T-shirt is $2 – an essential piece to her Homecoming outfit. 

“These are so cute,” May exclaims. 

Carter has her own items picked out as well. She makes her purchase and walks out with May. 

Now the real work begins. Back in May’s room, she takes out her purchases from her tote bag. She puts on a Taylor Swift album, sits down at her table and gets started right away. 

She begins by grabbing her steam iron and a detailed patch she recently purchased. The patch has an image of the Earth on it and says “There is no Planet B.” She lays out the patch near the left side pocket and begins to iron it on. 

“This isn’t the fanciest upcycling I’ve done, but these navy sweatpants now have a cute addition to them that they didn’t have before,” May says.

All around her room are symbols of her stance against fast fashion. Her entire closet is filled with pieces from thrift stores, posters of the Earth with hearts surrounding it adorn her walls and a variety of tote bags are displayed with different images of the planet. 

“Thrifting has made everything a lot easier for me. I care about the planet a lot so I try to do everything in my power to reduce my carbon footprint,” May says. 

Once the iron is cooled May puts it away. She reflects on her work and begins thinking of the next idea for her T-shirt. 

One week later May travels to Columbia for MU’s Homecoming game. She brings her fabric scissors and a pencil, along with the T-shirt she purchased from the thrift store last week.

“Thrifting and upcycling have changed my life. I really dislike the fast fashion industry so this is a way for me to do my part,” May says. 

Once the T-shirt has been cropped May tries it on. A smile lights up her face knowing she has found a way to successfully source clothing and reduce harm to the planet. 

Hi! My name is Addison Fouts and I am a sophomore here at Mizzou. I'm majoring in journalism but plan to go to law school. I love fashion, makeup, and anything lifestyle. I also love traveling and going to concerts! I'm so excited for you all to read my articles, and for more updates follow me on my socials! LinkedIn: Addison Fouts https://www.linkedin.com/in/addison-fouts-a09a71229/