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Davis, California

Thursday, July 11, 2024

The state of your closet might be a problem, but so is the state of our planet

Here’s how to fight fast fashion — and look good doing it


Fast fashion has revolutionized the clothing industry with the mass production of trendy items, appealing to a wide range of customers for its convenience and affordability. The business model gets its name from the rapid design, production and marketing of clothing, allowing them to be sold as soon as the demand arises. The industry is quickly growing due to the continuous cycling of fashion trends and the rampant consumerism in today’s society.

The allure of fast fashion can be attributed to the ability to buy stylish (albeit low-quality) items at cheap prices, allowing customers to try the latest styles without the buyer’s remorse. As a result, many of these items are bought at the height of various social media trends, leaving them to be quickly discarded when they fall out of fashion. 

Individuals are often drawn to popular fast fashion brands like SHEIN, Cider and Zara because of this purchasing power. However, they may not be entirely aware of how their support of these companies contributes to numerous harmful effects, including environmental damage, animal endangerment and the exploitation of laborers. Despite their budget-friendly price tags, the affordability of these items comes with a different type of cost. 

Every year, around 11.3 million tons of textile waste are deposited in U.S. landfills. The manufacturing process leads to extensive greenhouse gas emissions, contamination of water from dye waste and the build-up of non-biodegradable microplastics from synthetic fibers. This type of clothing production also requires the use of hazardous chemicals like phthalates, parabens and formaldehyde, which can pose significant risks to the environment, human health and wildlife safety. 

The industry employs millions of laborers making unlivable wages who may be forced to work up to 16 hours per day. Fast fashion is also heavily reliant on child labor; the vulnerability that comes with their age means they are often subjected to poor working conditions and little compensation, affecting their education, free time and health.

It’s understandable that so many people fall into these buying habits, especially when the social nature of college often encourages people to buy a single-use costume for each day of Halloweekend, or a new dress for every occasion. But buying less and local is easier and more rewarding than you think.

It’s fun to experiment with your style, and there are many ways to do so while shopping sustainably. Downtown Davis is the perfect place to peruse thrift stores and support local businesses to find pieces that won’t be gathering dust in the back of your closet a few months down the line. 

On campus, the Aggie Reuse Store is a student-run thrift shop that offers free items to students with the help of community donations. If you’re looking to exchange items, you can participate in a clothing swap organized by The Aggie Trading Post. Furthermore, investing in a few high-quality wardrobe staples will ensure that your clothing lasts a long time and won’t need to be replaced after a few wears.

Before you make a purchase, ask yourself: Do I need this item? Will I still be using it a year from now? Do I actually like it, or is this a classic case of FOMO? It’s important to take a step back and consider what you already own, what you actually want and what you really need. By considering a more ethical approach to fashion and engaging in conscious consumerism, the planet (and your closet) will thank you.

Written by: The Editorial Board


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