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

It goes without saying most college students struggle financially, whether you’re paying for school or not, it’s almost impossible to afford everyday items nowadays. Trying to keep up with schoolwork and a social life proves itself to be exhausting already, just imagine having to tack on the responsibility of a job or two or even three.

Unfortunately, that is the reality of most college kids in order to get by. Which makes companies like Shein, H&M, Fashion Nova and so many more the perfect market for struggling students to purchase clothes. These brands all make it their mission to sell cheap clothing in order to encourage people like broke college students to buy as much as possible, but at what cost?

The risks of choosing cheaper brands

There’s a term for exploitative brands like these that target those who cannot afford high-end prices and that is “fast fashion”. In recent years, fast fashion companies have sky-rocketed due to their demand and success. When most people hear the term fast fashion, sure they think of brands like Shein or Fashion Nova, but do people really know the severity the term holds? The reason these companies are able to produce such cheap clothing at such an intense rate is because, for one, they export their merchandise overseas in order to avoid high labor costs. But on top of the immoral production of the clothing, also comes the synthetic materials the clothing is made from like polyester. Polyester contains hazardous micro-fibers that have already done immense damage to our atmosphere and oceans. These micro-fibers contain particles of plastic which lead to higher carbon emissions.

The sad truth is most clothing purchased from these brands may only get worn a few times until it’s tossed in the garbage. Due to the cheap quality of the material, these clothes are ruined easily after a few wears and washes, leaving them nowhere else to go but landfills. Most people don’t think twice when throwing something out, just relieved it’s out of sight and out of mind, but the consequences of dumping your old clothes result in irreversible damage to our environment. Clothing landfills just sit there for years and years on end, the pile continuously getting bigger. The only other alternative people have found so far is to burn the waste in order to destroy it. This not only directly harms our planet, but harms humans as well because all the toxic chemicals used to produce the clothing are emitted into the atmosphere.

The more sustainable alternative…

So next time, before you think about buying 15 different tops from Shein for $200, visit websites that repurpose and sell clothing or even check to see if there are any local thrift shops in your area! Sustainability is possible and can be just as inexpensive as fast fashion, you just have to do a little digging!

Allison Mischel

South Carolina '25

Allison Mischel is the senior editor at Her Campus’s South Carolina Chapter. Her role is to oversee submitted articles and make necessary changes if needed! Allison is currently a junior at the University of South Carolina majoring in English. She hopes to pursue a career in publishing following her undergraduate education. In past years Allison had experience writing/editing for various publications as well freelance experience. In her free time Allison enjoys reading, hiking, going to local coffee shops and hanging out with friends!