TikTok keeps telling me to buy more clothes. The planet asks me to stop.
As an infrequent social media user, I dedicate one evening a week to guilty pleasure: mindlessly scrolling through TikTok. A video claiming to predict has recently appeared Spring and summer 2022 fashion trends appeared on my page for you. To my horror, low-rise jeans, ballet flats, cleavage and flared sleeves should be back this season – all that I don’t have in my wardrobe right now.
The more I scrolled, the more videos “Zara spring trauls”, “Where I shop” and “Get ready with me” appeared, in which users spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on new fashionable clothes from affordable online stores. My instincts prompted me to take a screenshot, save the video and open the Zara or Shein app to search for everything I just saw, add to cart and check.
I thought I was the only one struggling with the urge to bribe. However, during classes I began to notice that more and more of my classmates were scrolling endless pages of clothes on Shein or Fashion Nova. We are all looking for the same thing: a sense of luxury without a price tag. How could I be glad to know that I’m not the only one trying to keep up with the latest fashion trends where we spend the border?
Instead of filling my entire closet and clearing my bank account, I decided to sort out what was really going on behind the scenes in the fast fashion industry. Many fast fashion brands have been exposed again and again for exploiting their workers, abusing inconspicuous environmental standards and polluting the environment. On average it takes two to eight weeks for fast fashion brands to move from the original design to the shop, compared to luxury brands, the release of new designs can take up to two years. Online stores such as Pretty Little Thing, Boohoo and ASOS are added up to 7,000 new parts on their websites every week. Internet brands like these thrived during the pandemic because their digital operations were relatively unaffected, unlike brands that rely on personal shopping.
As trends on social media, such as huge fast fashion and the rapid cycle of hyper-specific fashion trends, continue to dominate pop culture, they perpetuate the mentality of extravagant consumption. The high-platform shoes we buy today may be old news until next year – trends that are fast going out of fashion on social media end up throwing clothes in landfills.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans produce on average 17 million tons textile waste annually, only 2.5 million tons are recycled. Landfill release harmful methane gases which harm the environment and pollute water sources. The fashion industry contributes 4% of the Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions and is the second largest consumer of water. On average, to produce just one pair of jeans requires a whopping 2,000 gallons of water. There are no environmental benefits.
In response to the harmful effects of fast fashion appeared pushes towards sustainable fashion or an eco-fashion that seeks to make fashion more carbon-neutral, socially responsible, or ethically produced using sustainable resources.
As environmentally conscious students who are committed to fashion and have a budget, you need to find a balance between fast, affordable fashion and sustainable fashion. In today’s world, we need to think less about what’s on trend and about our desire to have as much clothing as possible for as little as possible, and more about keeping our planet alive for future generations. Environmental awareness is not only the recycling of plastic and cans, but also clothing.
In a huge city like New York, it’s easy to find the same savings-stores as Goodwill, the same ones available as H&M or Fashion Nova. Save and resell clothes good ways be environmentally conscious and save clothes that would otherwise be dumped. Online markets such as Depop and Facebook Marketplace make trading and selling clothes easy and affordable.
I know it’s not easy to get past the “How to Dress Like That Celebrity for Cheap” videos, and the savings may not be as exciting as the Zara sale. However, for the sake of the planet, choose not to participate in the culture of fast fashion. What’s best for me is to buy clothes in thrift stores and only as a last resort to buy fast fashion. Trading clothes with friends and family is also another way to prevent clothes from falling into landfills. Every item of clothing has an impact. May yours be good.
Contact Mickey Chipana at [email protected]