As I scroll on my instagram or tik tok, I see a variety of young women pushing a certain type of style. This usually consists of quirky, colorful tops, pants and bikinis. One trend that has been on the rise recently are crocheted shorts and tops. I’ll admit they are super cute and sometimes I have to stop myself from adding to cart. Sometimes these treds last years but recently, these fashion trends are coming and going quickly. As climate change is a major concern with the new generation, we ask ourselves, is it worth it? To have these cheap-made clothes mass produced, and then thrown in our closet and only worn once.
One major brand that falls into this mainstream fast-fashion category is Shein, an affordable online market for womens clothes. When I visit their website, the top of the page reads, “New Arrivals Dropped Daily.” and “New Trends in Clothes. ” I do browse this website quite a bit, just because of the thousands of clothes that are listed as well as the cheap prices. Last time I bought from Shein, the clothes were thin and see-through as well as extremely over packaged, so I choose to never buy from there again. But it’s not just Shein. Stores like ZARA, H&M, Urban Outfitters, American Eagle are all contributing to this climate crisis.
Dana Thomas from NY times says that our clothes will end up as part of the fossil record for future generations. “More than 60 percent of fabric fibers are now synthetics, derived from fossil fuels, so if and when our clothing ends up in a landfill (about 85 percent of textile waste in the United States goes to landfills or is incinerated), it will not decay.” (Thomas) The fashion industry is responsible for 8-10% of global carbon emissions. Along with this, toxic dyes are leaking into our soil, oceans, and other waterways. Just the simple act of washing our clothes leaks tons of microplastics into the ocean. Approximately 500,000 tons of microplastics are distributed into the ocean every year.
One way our generation can combat fast fashion is through thrifting. Shopping at thrift stores is not a new thing at all, but it has become more popular to the younger generations through social media. Personally, I love thrift shopping, it is an affordable way to buy unique clothes that most people don’t have. I would say about half of my closet is from a thrift store because I often find great clothes for super cheap.
As we grow out of our old clothes and out of micro trends, donating or selling these clothes are definitely the most environmentally friendly option. Some consignment shops like Buffalo Exchange or Greene street will even give you cash in return for some clothes, which I think is super cool. I personally love shopping at these stores because they are more affordable and I know I am helping the environment. When I clean out my closet, I always have a donation pile that I choose to take to either store.
This issue has also become more apparent to a lot of SLA students, especially Lucy Silveman, a senior at SLA who created her capstone around the reuse of clothes. Lucy set up three clothing racks in the entrance of SLA filled with clothes donated from other students. I saw many people looking through these racks and picking out great pieces, as well as donating! Our community realized our effect on climate change, and luckily a lot of us are trying to slow it down.
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