by: Jennifer Villeda ’20 A&E Staff
Thanks to teenager Greta Thurnberg, climate change and sustainability were at the forefront of our minds throughout 2019. Thunberg stood up to global leaders and illustrated how the earth reflected the impact of our careless actions. She brought new life to this topic.
Last year saw beautiful regions and animals come face-to-face with flames due to wildfires in areas like California and Australia. Australia has been dealing with bushfires since late October, and it has continued into the new year with about 15.6 million acres burned across the nation.
Now, how does this relate to fashion? The fashion industry with all its glitz and glamour has played a huge role in creating pollution. In an article for Business Insider by Morgan McFall-Johnsen, she reported, “The fashion industry produces 10 percent of all humanity’s carbon emissions, is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply, and pollutes the oceans with microplastics.”
We live in a period where fast fashion dictates the industry. Huge retail chains are rapidly creating cheap clothing to meet the latest trends and demands of their target markets. Emily Farra wrote in a recent Vogue article, “An estimated 50 million tons of clothing is discarded every year, and most of it will not biodegrade in a landfill.”
Instagram is a culprit promoting this wasteful culture. We often encounter influencers who post photos of their #OOTD and it always features new clothing—rarely do they ever repeat a look. FashionNova’s founder, Richard Saghian stated in an interview, “They need to buy a lot of different styles and probably only wear them a couple times so their Instagram feeds can stay fresh.”
In 2020, the fashion industry will have to be more transparent and active in how they create their products. Consumers, like us college students, have the power to encourage change by gradually putting more thought into what we purchase. Going to Savers and using apps like Poshmark are great for giving a second life to vintage clothing. Besides thrifting, there are rental services like Rent the Runway where customers can rent clothing for a few days and then return it, eliminating the worry of posting in the same outfit twice. Or purchasing clothing from eco-conscious brands like Everlane and Reformation give a behind the scenes into how and where their clothing is made. Plus, we can make the effort to use recycled or environmentally safe materials.
It is not easy and it is not all on us to make the change. Retail companies and fashion brands must also participate as they are the ones creating the clothing, but it helps when the consumers stand up and voice their opinions. Go out there and learn a bit about what you are wearing because when you begin to look at the details in its creation, you become more conscious of how much that sweater or that denim truly affects the planet.