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Why It’s Important to Try to Shop More Sustainably

The term “sustainable fashion” has been thrown around a lot in recent years and it is something that people either embrace wholeheartedly or dismiss as too challenging of a commitment. For those of you who are hesitant, making sustainable clothing choices takes a bit more effort, but it has immensely rewarding benefits—both environmentally and socially.


To understand why sustainable fashion is a choice well worth making, it is important to first understand what is so problematic about fast fashion. Pieces that are designed for fast fashion are not meant to be investment pieces. They are not made to be particularly durable so they do not last for a long time. Many consumers are attracted to these items because of how low in cost they tend to be. However, their price leads to yet another issue. Clothing manufacturers that specialize in fast fashion are able to price them this way because, further down the supply line, they do not pay their workers well. Sweatshop workers rarely even make enough money to live off of and they are also forced to endure terrible working conditions. What’s more is that many of these workers are women, which adds a separate set of social complications. Fast fashion is an infringement of women’s rights.


Fast fashion also comes with a host of environmental issues that should be taken into consideration when you decide what brand you will make your next purchase from. The textile mills that are involved in the production of clothing produce a dangerous amount of toxins that infiltrate the drinking water negatively impact the air quality. Fast fashion pieces also have a high turnover rate as people often end up throwing them out or trying to donate them because of their poor quality. Although those who take the donation route have good intentions, a lot of clothes that go through donation very rarely get sold again. Many articles end up in landfills and this harms the environment even further.



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One of the best things about trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle when it comes to fashion is that it’s easier than you might think. The first step is to educate yourself. It’s so important to be an informed consumer, so do some research about what brands are more committed to sustainability and identify ones you think best align with your values. A useful tool in the research process is a website called good on you. They identify sustainable fashion brands and provide tips for those trying to transition into a sustainable lifestyle. They rate each brand on a variety of characteristics including how workers are treated in the supply chain, the environmental impact the brand has, if the brand uses any animal products, and if the brand is involved in any humanitarian efforts outside of the clothing production business.


Once you have a better understanding of what your options are, it is time to put that knowledge into practice. It is important to remember that one of the best parts about sustainable fashion is that the pieces are inherently made to last longer. You’re not only buying something that will benefit the environment, but you’re also buying something that you won’t have to throw out after a few uses. A common complaint about trying to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle is that it is too expensive. However, it’s important to note that you don’t necessarily have to buy new clothing to do your part for the environment. There are a lot of second-hand stores and thrift shops where you can get sustainable clothing at a lower price. Or you could get together with some friends and organize a clothing swap. It saves you some money and also prevents clothes from ending up in landfills.


Living sustainably is not something that has to be done overnight. It can happen at whatever pace you feel comfortable with. The main point is that it’s good to be a more conscientious consumer. When you buy a new dress for a party, it is not as simple as swiping your credit card and walking home with your purchase. It is necessary to understand how the dress ended up in the store in the first place.

Surya Swaroop is a junior transfer at UCSB majoring in Psychology/Brain Sciences. She can be found doing yoga, drinking way too much tea, knitting, and baking. She is passionate about politics and fashion and plans on going to law school after college.
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