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The Crisis of Consumption

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Pace chapter.

Although I originally intended to write this article about what I personally have consumed this week, I think there is a much more evocative conversation to be had about consumption as a college student. In turn, I implore you to analyze with a more critical lens what would have been a shallow, narrow-scoped listicle of my recent obsessions and the guilt that accompanies them.

Chai Tea Lattes and Marbled Pound Cake

Fall is hitting the North East faster than any of us could have imagined, and it is officially hot drink and sweater weather season. In an attempt to fulfill this prophecy, I found myself at the Urban Backyard— a beautiful coffee shop in Little Italy. However, to avoid the shame of buying from big conglomerates like Starbucks, I found myself spending around $15 on merely a drink and a pastry. 

Does the moral high of “buying local” really outweigh the new stress it places on a college student’s budget?

Fashion Week Dialogue

New York and Paris Fashion Week are the epitomai of the facade that is conceptual authenticity. Around the times of these events, streetwear is rampant with micro trends that rapidly hit the media in the following weeks; neon green, statement denim, and unconventional sunglasses make this year’s list. 

Am I perpetuating these harmful trends by indulging in lookbooks and interviews on social media?

Urban Jungle Vintage

As we have already established, fashion is my soft spot. With sustainability and budget in mind, I tend to lean away from fast fashion and shop second-hand. I have been living for the combination of patterns and textures so my recent purchases include the following: sleek maxi skirts, chunky grandpa sweaters, and dainty slip dresses. 

Am I taking affordable resources away from those who really need them by shopping at thrift stores? 


As a college student, planners are a must. Therefore, stickers quickly become your best friend. They are adorable, versatile, and you can find them practically anywhere. Need I say more?

But what about the small businesses that make a living off designing them? Why are you not giving them your patronage?

Dark Red Lipstick

There is nothing more timeless than a classic red lip. Whether it is with a casual chic outfit or for a formal event, red lipstick ties the entire look together. My current shade is “AWARENESS” by bareMinerals, and I could not rave about it enough.

But are you really buying products that are ethically produced? How ethical can a name brand really be?

As consumers, there is a constant expectation to “buy better” while also buying more. Sustainability, ethics, and budget factors are so far-reaching that consuming responsibly is becoming an impossible feat. This begs the question: what really separates me from chronic Shein shoppers, and is my consumption objectively “better” in all actuality? Cynicism aside, there is no simple answer to these questions. 

Too often the “all-or-nothing mentality” is mobilized to guilt-conscious consumers into buying different products. This concept is comparable to counterarguments made against extremist vegan movements: it is not always feasible for individuals to go fully vegan (or, for purposes of this argument, fully sustainable), but by reducing our consumption, we can greatly impact the whole. Any effort is a step in the right direction.

However, regardless of effort, consumption cannot be wholly ethical without the reformation of production; henceforth, producers must be held accountable. We must use conscious consumption not only as a tool to buy ethically but also to apply economic pressure on corporations that control the majority of harmful emissions. I ultimately encourage you to reflect on your own impact while acknowledging that it is okay to make mistakes. Again, any effort is a good effort, but we must continue to motion for change — both from the consumer and the producer —  in what is clearly a corrupt system. 

Emma Frederickson is a writer for Pace’s chapter of Her Campus. This is her second year writing for the magazine, and she consistently covers topics ranging from sustainability politics to pop culture. Outside of Her Campus, she is completing her undergrad as a Communication and Media Studies major with a minor in Peace and Justice, and hopes to eventually get a masters degree in Publishing. She is an active member of several other organizations including Pace Sustainability Initiative and the Pace Honors College. Emma hosts a weekly podcast, And They Were Roommates, on WPUB radio. In her spare time, she volunteers with the Bowery Residents’ Committee. In her personal life, Emma has a passion for clothing and can always be found thrifting somewhere in the city. She can also be found reading or doing yoga on days where she is not out and about. On the weekends, Emma enjoys curling up and watching a movie with friends. Otherwise, she can be found traveling home to Easton, Pennsylvania for a much needed visit with her pup!