When shopping for clothing, most people can relate to the experience of trying to find the cheapest clothing and the best deal. However, behind all of this lays the damaging truth of the unnecessary destructive influence the fashion industry has on the environment.
The consumption of sustainable clothing has become vital due to the excessive waste and environmental harm produced by the fashion industry. The toxic chemicals used by various large clothing brands have caused many shoppers to seek more eco-friendly alternatives.
Sophomore Aileen Wu, president of the Zero Waste Initiative club at Paly, said by minimizing clothing purchases from unsustainable fashion brands, students can help the environment.
“By purchasing clothing made from recycled material, you lengthen the lifetime of the resources that it is made up of. Zero Waste is all about reusing, and this is one way you can reduce your carbon footprint.”
According to Wu, recycling limits unnecessary carbon emissions as it prevents clothing from discarding into landfills and discourages new products from manufacturing. Additionally, due to the of the amount of water utilized to produce clothing, recycling material also aids in reducing water waste.
“It’s like giving the material of your clothing a second life, but it didn’t have to start from the very beginning,”Wu said.
According to Sustain Your Style, a sustainability website, the fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world. Sophomore Stella Essenmacher believes that the importance of taking care of the environment lies in the hands of the people, and the fashion industry may later lead to increased problems.
“I believe it is important to help the environment because if we are not aware of the impact our actions have on the planet, problems like global warming can only get worse,” Essenmacher said.
Senior Lucy Volino said eco-friendly clothing and fashion can have a huge impact on society and lead to a healthier planet.
“I try to buy sustainable clothing for two big reasons. One, because buying secondhand or from sustainable clothing companies supports more ethical production of textiles. Many of the clothes people buy super cheaply from fast fashion companies treat their workers incredibly poorly in order to produce a large volume of clothes cheaply. These companies exploit already vulnerable populations, particularly women, in developing countries.”
Additionally, Volino believes that purchasing eco-friendly clothes contribute to reducing one’s carbon footprint.
“By buying sustainably, you are voting with your money and not contributing to the fast fashion industry,” Volino said. “Buying second hand decreases demand for new clothes even more.”
Volino minimizes her shopping by purchasing brands such as Everlane, Pact Organics and People Tree, and often borrows from her friends and family.
“I try to reduce, borrow, thrift and buy in that order,” Volino said. “Reduce the number of clothing I buy overall, borrow from friends and family who are done with older clothes, thrift to be frugal and most sustainable, and then I buy the rest from stores with transparency who are working to have more ethical and environmentally friendly practices.”
According to Volino, although many do not realize the harm the fashion industry brings, taking even the slightest initiative to reduce shopping and buying sustainably will have a large effect.
“I think people in the United States need to re-evaluate their purchases to buy less overall, because buying more has caused people to throw away more clothing, filling landfills rapidly,” Volino said. “I encourage people to watch ‘The True Cost’ documentary to learn more about the ethical and environmental consequences of the clothing industry.”