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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

UC Davis students can engage in ethical consumption and sustainable shopping — here’s how

Thrifting, donating, sustainable options all ways to avoid fast fashion

“Fast fashion” is a term that refers to the mass-production of cheap clothing built to reflect the ever-changing trends in the fashion industry. Stores like Zara, Forever 21 and H&M market low prices for fashionable items so that consumers will continue to purchase their clothes as new trends roll around the corner.

Constantly changing trends, however, mean that the clothes consumers buy won’t be relevant for long and the terrible quality of the clothing makes them fall apart in the washing machine. Fast fashion stores abuse cheap labor and release harmful emissions into the atmosphere.

As college students, it can be difficult not to submit to the traps of fast fashion marketing — a $7 shirt from Charlotte Russe can be hard to pass up when thinking about student loans and textbook expenses. Shopping in this way, however, is detrimental to the environment and can actually cost more in the long run. 

So how can college students combat the rise of fast fashion? 

Shop Second-Hand

Thrifting is an incredibly important trend that has taken off in recent years. Not only is it an affordable way to update your wardrobe, but it also reduces the impact of the 10.5 million tons of clothing thrown away each year and eliminates the resources used and pollution emitted when making new clothing. There are websites for buying and selling used clothing, like Poshmark and Thredup, or you can shop locally at one of the many consignment shops in Yolo County. In Davis alone, there is Bohème Hip Used Clothing, the Goodwill and the Aggie Reuse Store on campus. 

Think Before You Buy

It is important to assess how necessary a new article of clothing is to your life. Clothing production uses up an incredible amount of resources — it can take up to 8,000 liters of water to make a single pair of jeans. People should pause before purchasing a brand new pair when they may already have a few others in rotation. It can be better to have fewer articles of clothing that are high in quality and will last for a longer period of time. 

Marc Bain, in an article in The Atlantic, urges people to stop and truly consider the usefulness and quality of an item before buying it.

“The next time you buy something, spend a whole lot on it,” Bain wrote. “Enough that it makes you sweat a little.”

Shop Sustainably 

When you truly do need a new article of clothing and buying second-hand is not an option, there are ways to ensure your purchases are as ethical and sustainable as possible. Kate Fletcher coined the term “slow fashion” in an article in the Ecologist. She defines the term as “a different approach in which designers, buyers, retailers and consumers are more aware of the impacts of products on workers, communities and ecosystems.” The best way to ensure that you are shopping sustainable and ethically is to research brands before you buy from them. Consider the brand’s impact on the environment and the way they treat their workers. Here is a list of some affordable brands that fall under these guidelines to get you started. 

Donate Old Clothes 

When you throw away clothes, they decompose and release landfill gases, a mixture of toxic pollutants like carbon dioxide and methane. Donating clothes to those in need is a way to give an item a brand new life. While donations to the Goodwill or Salvation Army are always accepted, there is no guarantee that they will end up being reused. One option is to donate clothes directly to those in need, such as crisis centers or women’s shelters. Women Escaping A Violent Environment (WEAVE) is a service for survirors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Sacramento that takes donations of used clothes at their WEAVEWorks Recycled Fashion center, located at 2401 Arden Way, Sacramento, Calif. 

Additionally, there are some major brands that have implemented recycling initiatives of their own. Nike, North Face and Patagonia all accept donated clothes and shoes and upcycle them. 

If major fashion brands are not going to focus on sustainability, then it’s up to the consumers to make thoughtful choices when shopping.

Written By: Alyssa Ilsley — arts@theaggie.org


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