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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

It’s time to break up with fast fashion

Save the planet and your wallet

Spring is upon us, and with that warm weather comes the annual bombardment of advertisements demanding that we update our wardrobes.

“Up to 50% off warm weather faves!”

“Limited Time!”

“Last Day!”

And on and on it goes.

In a world dominated by fast fashion and the money-thirsty industry that drives it, it’s hard not to fall into the cycle: buy cheap, buy more, throw away, repeat.

This year, as Buffalo thaws and we shed our winter coats, it’s time we also shed a bad habit. 

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of all global carbon emissions, totaling more than the emissions produced by all international flights and maritime shipping combined. At this rate, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, it’s estimated that the industry’s emissions will surge more than 50% by 2023.

A trip to H&M or a new Shein haul may seem harmless, but the cost of your latest clothing haul is much higher than the price tag. 

The environmental cost of production alone is devastating, but that compounds with common consumer practices to make the fast fashion industry even more dangerous.

Clothing sales spiked from 100 to 200 billion units a year between 2000 and 2015, while the average utilization of clothing per item has starkly declined by 36%, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.We’re buying twice as many clothes and wearing them less often, all in the name of consumerism. 

With fashion trends constantly changing and an influx of social media influencers promoting the “latest and greatest” products, it’s hard to keep up — and do it sustainably.

While there’s no simple, overarching solution to extinguish the fast fashion fire, there are some steps you can take on an individual level to combat the industry’s waste.

Donate. Don’t dispose

Thinking about throwing away old clothes? There’s a much better, more sustainable and more charitable option: making a donation. 

Donating your old clothing prevents consumerist waste and gives another person the opportunity to use and access a much-needed commodity. Instead of ending up in a landfill where the clothes will take years to break down, your old clothing can be used to benefit the people in your community.

Upcycle old clothes

Have a pile of old clothes that you’ve outgrown, outworn or otherwise neglected? It’s time to get crafty. Instead of throwing away that old t-shirt or fraying sweater, you have the power to give it a new life. Upcycling your old clothes can extend their lifetime and give them new purpose. With countless possibilities, you can create your next quilt, cropped t-shirt, patch or whatever else you can think of. Upcycling is a fun and easy way to counter the vicious cycle of buying, wearing and disposing. 

Go thrift shopping

Thrifting is a fun way to experiment with fashion and indulge in the latest trends without expending the environment or your wallet. Whether it’s Goodwill, Savers or a consignment shop like Plato’s Closet, you’ll be met with a wide selection of clothes, all available for far less than the cost of most fast fashion retailers. 

Buying secondhand clothes gives you the freedom to try out different styles affordably and sustainably. You never know what gem you’re going to find as you rummage through the racks. It’s a win-win situation without the guilt of feeding into the fast fashion industry. So go find your next favorite outfit while knowing you’re making a positive impact on the environment.

The opinion desk can be reached at opinion@ubspectrum.com

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