In wake of recent climate activism and political debate — often led by young people — we are collectively more aware that climate change is a massive issue. Young people also often care about what they choose to wear. Personal style is a huge part of how people perceive us. Not everyone is aware, though, that where they choose to buy their clothes can have an impact on the environment.
The term “fast fashion” is likely one you’ve heard of before. The term describes companies that mass produce cheap-quality clothing, sell at a low cost, and come out with new styles rapidly as to catch up with the latest trends. While stylish and inexpensive clothing sounds wonderful, they come at a huge cost.
The clothing and textile industry is the second most polluting industry next to fossil fuels. By lowering their prices, not only do businesses hurt the people making their clothes in third world countries, but they also belittle the quality of clothing enough that it almost becomes disposable, making it similar to plastic straws or bags. Being environmentally conscious does not mean we have to sacrifice personal style. There are many sustainable alternatives to fast fashion that are slowly gaining popularity.
Trendy and sustainable clothing brands have been gaining popularity in recent years. The most popular of these brands would probably be the brand Reformation. Most teens don’t have a lot of money to spend on clothing, which makes it hard to buy new clothing from sustainable brands like Reformation that price many of their items in the hundreds.
Sustainability does come at a higher price, but the important fact is that the clothing is going to have a much longer lifespan. This can even save you more money because your clothes will last longer. The most affordable sustainable clothing option is to shop secondhand. This includes thrifting or shopping at online secondhand stores like Depop.
Recently, Depop has garnered a lot of attention from teens for its Instagram-like interface and trendy clothing that comes at a reasonable price. It also serves as a tool to sell clothes rather than throwing them out or donating them. While donating is often seen as the right thing to do, the majority of clothes donated end up in landfill, whereas selling online guarantees that they will get to someone new. Brands like Reformation are starting a sustainable fashion movement, and companies like Depop are helping to popularize secondhand shopping. Any time we are in need of new clothing, we have to think about where our money is going. The planet is getting hotter than any new trend could possibly be.