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The Importance of Sustainable Fashion and How to Utilize it for the Upcoming Season

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at OSU chapter.

As a girl who loves fashion, especially in the fall and winter months, I’ve always found it hard to buy pieces that are “trending”, unique to my style and affordable. This dilemma becomes particularly difficult during the colder months when we are all searching for pieces to keep us warm and get complimented by family, friends and maybe even some strangers. The problem is that a lot of the trendy, warm winter and fall items like jackets, jeans, pants and sweaters aren’t affordable for many people, especially full-time college students. On top of this, one of the biggest problems surrounding the fashion industry right now is that items sold by bigger companies and corporations are not sustainable or environmentally friendly. While you may think the sustainability of our planet doesn’t concern you, I hope this article can change your mind and give you tips to have a fashionable and sustainable holiday season.

Buying Second-hand clothing

At the beginning of 2023, my mom and I made a New Year’s resolution to only buy clothes that were second-hand or thrift. As we began this journey we realized we would have to modify our big plan, which is okay! We decided we could buy new shoes, undergarments, and anything for a fancy or special event at corporate clothing stores. We have done very well sticking to our goal so far, and although we aren’t perfect and do enjoy splurging on a new item every once in a while, the idea of becoming more aware and bringing awareness to others about sustainable fashion is what really counts. I found that I started to develop a unique sense of style by shopping at consignment stores more often. The variety at some of my favorite places is always top-tier, and I can pick out clothes I know no one else has. When my friends would compliment me or ask where I had gotten pieces of my outfits I would take that chance to tell them about second-hand fashion and encourage them to start similar shopping habits. Thrifting isn’t just a trend; it’s a lifestyle choice that helps both the individual participating and society as a whole. Not only is thrifting good for the environment, but it can help get your mind off things. Going thrifting is now one of my favorite things to do with my friends and family or by myself if I’m having a bad day. Think about thrifting as recycling for clothing — when an individual doesn’t fit in an item they once bought or it doesn’t fit their sense of style any longer, they can donate it to a second-hand store so someone else can get the chance to give that piece a new life. As a member of the Students for Sustainable Fashion Club (SFSF) at Ohio State and a first-year student interested in minoring in Fashion Retail Studies, I am very excited to dive deeper into the world of sustainable fashion and learn how it can be better utilized at company and individual levels. Although I am an out-of-state student from Northern Virginia and don’t know the ins and outs of Ohio thrift store locations, I have been given some recommendations by my peers. These include Goodwill, Savers, Plato’s Closet, Value World, Village Discount, Volunteers of America, Clothing Underground, Out of the Closet, Clothes Mentor, Buckeye Bargains, Marigold Curated, and Show and Sell Merchandise.

Repurposing Old Clothing

Now, you’re probably wondering how exactly you can start practicing sustainable habits around your clothing choices, so I’ll tell you. One great way you can stay sustainable and fashionable for the upcoming colder months is by taking on a new hobby! I haven’t committed to a crafting hobby, but I have many friends who have recently taken up knitting, crocheting, painting, bow-making and so much more to repurpose their old clothing and make new pieces. I was given a knit scarf by a friend a year ago and it is now one of my favorite winter items to add to my outfits. Crafting creates an opportunity for you to create your own fashion items and elevate your outfits. With an open mind, some effort and time, you can create something unique and sustainable.

Donating old clothes

Another way you can make a positive contribution to sustainability in the fashion and retail world is by making sure you are donating your old clothes to the right places. First of all, you don’t just want to throw away clothes you don’t wear anymore from your closet into the garbage. Fast fashion and clothing thrown out create lots of textile waste, and not to mention throwing your garments in the garbage wastes money and materials that don’t need to be thrown away and can be repurposed and worn. It can also take up to 200 years or more for these materials to be disposed of once dumped in a landfill. These fabrics can then generate harmful gas into the environment including into the air, the ground and bodies of water nearby. Manufacturers and retailers continue to overproduce clothing which is why society would benefit from opening more second-hand stores. In order to do so, individuals have to be open to the idea of donating their clothing when they feel like they don’t need or want it anymore. Just because you don’t want it doesn’t mean someone else may not like it. It’s as easy as taking time to research drop-off and donation locations near you! 

Collecting clothing for local communities

In my years as a high school student, I spent time participating in community service and worked several times with an organization called WomenGivingBack. This organization, located in Sterling, VA, takes donations of used clothing and gives them to women in need and their children. Being a part of collecting clothing in my community as well as sorting and shopping for women is what started my interest and passion in the world of sustainable fashion and community service.

It’s never too late to change your habits; even if we all start off with something small to alter our spending and shopping choices, we can still make a huge difference for our environment and our society. I invite anyone reading to think about the tips and information provided in this article and bring mindfulness to your shopping choices when it comes to planning your outfits for the Holiday season. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a new piece of clothing every once in a while, but I’ve learned to open my eyes up to opportunities and rethink the word “new”. I now see any clothing I buy as “new” whether it has been worn before or not because I am deciding to give it a new life and a new purpose.

Cassidy Ludwig is a first year in the honors program at Ohio State University and is currently undecided in her major. Some of her interests include reading, writing, fashion, and music! In her free time she loves to go shopping, play guitar, sing, paint, bake, go to the gym, and spend time with friends and family! She is very passionate about helping others as well as providing entertainment through her writing!