How We Kneel Down to Fast Fashion

It’s not an exaggeration to say that one of the busiest places in our campus is the mail room. Whether it’s a week before the Halloween dance, Homecoming, Blue and White, Senior dance, or the numerous events that require special costumes or a dress code, the package room fills with boxes from clothing orders. Technology has enabled quicker, more efficient ways for consumers to shop online. This developed technology has benefited society in various ways. For instance, just like food delivery apps now help millions of people in self-quarantine, online shopping websites are frequented far more often than conventional stores. However, the culture of fast fashion is severely damaging the environment by creating and entrenching wasteful habits in consumers.  

For instance, students shopping online frequently end up with more clothing than they need. For special occasions, students typically order more than one item to give themselves options. While students buy multiple products assuming that they would return the others, many end up keeping the items due to a lack of time or complicated return policies. In order to be better global citizens and abide by the school’s mission statement, we need to be more environmentally conscious. 

The fashion industry stands as the second largest polluter in the world after the oil industry.[efn_note][/efn_note] Ten percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the fashion industry. In addition to air pollution, the fashion industry also produces about twenty percent of global water waste, as it takes thousands of gallons of water to manufacture a single piece of clothing such as a t-shirt or a pair of jeans.[efn_note]United Nations Partnership on Sustainable Fashion and the SDG’s[/efn_note] These statistics illustrate why sustainable fashion should be prioritized among environmental issues. People throw away an average of seventy pounds of clothing and shoes per year.[efn_note][/efn_note] The little items that we so easily get rid of can become a massive pile that has long-term consequences. Therefore, it’s crucial for us to at least make an effort from now on to reduce the waste.

Although we have unintentionally knelt down to the fast fashion industry, we can easily start developing sustainable habits by taking small steps. First of all, we need to demand more transparency from brands. In order to raise awareness of sustainable fashion within the industry itself, we should make the effort to become a smart consumer body by prioritizing the questions such as: Who made these clothes? How were these clothes produced? Or, where did the materials come from? By taking a few more minutes before hitting “purchase,” and choosing sustainable fashion brands such as Reformation or Zara over unethical clothing brands, consumers can turn the industry’s focus to the ethical aspect of the production process. 

Moreover, we should shop less. For school events such as dances, students can make an effort to return items if they ordered more than needed, or take a moment to reconsider whether their purchases are necessary. The next most important step is to upcycle, repair, and share. In fact, this step is already ongoing in the community. For example, we have stacks of empty bins in the common room at the end of the year for clothing donations. There are various Instagram accounts run by the students where they sell and buy each other’s pre-owned items, a system that allows students to add new items to their closet for a cheaper price in a more sustainable way.

If we start reducing our own consumption and developing a healthy, sustainable cycle within the school’s community, we would be able to become a wiser consumer body, further spreading this message to the outer community to grow awareness for a greener society.