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

Shopping sustainably and saving the environment

Fast fashion is about quickly manufacturing lots of clothing inexpensively to cater to the ever-changing fashion trends. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the concept of fast fashion, however, it has been linked to pollution and poor working conditions. Plus, clothing made quickly tends to not last as long as clothing that was made with care. But in a world of debt and rising expenses, fast fashion seems the way to go, seeing as it’s cheap. But please keep somethings in mind next time you go out shopping.

The fast fashion industry favors the rich over the poor. If the company makes clothes in China, you can bet your butt that those workers are in poor conditions and are paid very little for their efforts. On the flip side, the higher ups in the company make millions, sometimes billions of dollars. Purchasing fast fashion makes the rich richer, and sometimes it gets to the point where they have more money than they could ever spend in an extravagant lifetime. When you purchase fast fashion, you’re lining the pockets of the rich, and sometimes even unknowingly endorsing unsafe working conditions, and even sometimes child labor.

Next up, pollution. Cotton is a natural fiber so it degrades, however, materials like polyester can contribute to landfills and even micro-plastics in the ocean. Micro-plastics are a serious concern to sea-life and humanity. Fish and other sea-life will ingest the small pieces of plastic, either mistaking them for food or from breathing in the water, these micro-plastics are never digested, and in extreme cases, the stomach of the creature can become full with plastic and they can no longer eat, and they die. If the creature doesn’t ingest that much plastic, they can be caught and prepared for human consumption. Meaning that if you eat fish you have a chance of eating plastics. The plastic itself isn’t too dangerous to humans, the real danger is in the chemicals used to make the plastics, sometimes these chemicals are carcinogenic and toxic. The little pieces of plastic have also been thought to be a magnet to heavy metals and pathogens found in the water. This can lead to many serious issues, including cancer. If a pregnant woman ingests too much plastic, these chemicals can damage a male baby, specifically the reproductive tract. These micro-plastics are a serious concern, with an estimate of up to 51 trillion pieces weighing up to 236,000 metric tons. That’s 579,815,750 pounds of plastic just from the little pieces. Pieces fabric made from synthetic fibers contributes a significant amount of this weight.

Now that we’ve covered some of the downsides of fast-fashion, how can you shop sustainably? An easy first step is shopping second hand. Thrifting has become very popular in the last couple of years with the increasing popularity of vintage fashions, and it’s an easy way to shop more sustainably, and much cheaper too. Keep in mind that some thrift stores are a chain, like Goodwill, and the profits mostly go to the head of the company. This is where the next bit comes in. Shopping locally or from small online businesses is way more sustainable than fast fashion, and you get to financially support someone who loves what they do and relies on the income from their store. And the final piece of shopping sustainably? Buying clothes that were made in the USA. These items are most likely the best quality out there and supply jobs in our own country. This is incredibly important to the economy, more so than chains that only benefit the 1%.

Please think about the environment the next time you shop and shop sustainably!


A Saint Mike's freshman Media Studies major who just wants to write for the hell of it.
CC for HC SMCVT. Massachusetts girl, who somehow ended up in Northern Vermont. Senior at Saint Michel's College studying Media, Journalism & Digital Arts. Interests include: running, Bridesmaids, bagels, the color navy and guacamole. Firm believer that you can never be overdressed or overeducated.