Fast fashion as we know it has revolutionized the fashion industry. This change has not been entirely positive, however, as it has negatively impacted our world socially and environmentally.
Low economies and third world countries are suffering to keep up with the high consumer demand, and the consumer is buying products that have less than a year life span, leading to more clothing going to waste.
Lack of awareness by consumers is the biggest issue. People continue to buy new clothes, then discard the old ones without thinking about its effect on the earth.
If everyone thought about sustainability while shopping, it would [benefit] the earth on a much larger scale,” says Emily Halsch, a senior studying advertising. “Companies aren’t going to change their practices unless they see that this is what consumers want. It is up to the consumers to foster a change in the industry.
Halsch is secretary of the Fashion Society here at Penn State and has a strong appreciation for sustainable fashion as she is looking to pursue a career in the industry.
“To me, being sustainable means making decisions with the earth in mind,” says Halsch. “If more people think about how their actions affect our planet, it will be able to sustain a longer life for generations after us.”
There are many ways to avoid feeding into fast fashion. Thrifting is actually a very good way to recycle through old clothes and find new treasures. Use social media to your advantage! Find small businesses on Instagram.
“When shopping, do your research on companies to see if they are transparent in their practices. Being more thoughtful on your purchases and buying pieces that are good quality and staple pieces will help your clothing last through many different seasons and trends,” says Halsch.
Reformation is a company that supports domestic products, and companies like this are becoming more popular every day. Stores like this are really setting a standard for sustainable fashion. The only issue is the prices are not for everyone.
“Many people think that shopping sustainability can be expensive, but buying secondhand and renting or borrowing clothing are great ways to do this inexpensively,” says Halsch.
Our advice to anyone trying to shop more sustainably would be to stop wasting smaller amounts of money on more pieces of clothes. Instead, splurge on a few staple pieces and shop for the rest in second hand stores. There so many growing second hand shops today, even on social media. Instagram can be used to sell on trend vintage pieces as well as popular resell sites like Depop or Poshmark.
In order to see a change towards more sustainable fashion, keep in mind there are ways to beat fast fashion.
“If you are done with clothing, donate it to goodwill or local charities to ensure the clothing does not end up in our landfills,” says Halsch.