Consumerism and Sustainability in a Fast Fashion World

By: Langley Ward

We’ve all been there –– you see a cheap piece of clothing or an accessory of the sorts online with
almost too good to be true details: it doesn’t cost much, it’ll arrive in two days max., and it has a
great design. The only problem that consumers (including myself) tend to neglect is the work
that goes into making the item and the problems that come with supporting the fast fashion
industry. While these products are made to look right, the fabrics that most of these are made out
of are terrible for our world. Luckily, there are a few remedies for this dilemma.

Less expensive clothing, found in stores like Forever 21 or Old Navy, often come from morally
questionable locations. For instance, Old Navy has great prices for their t-shirts, pants, and other
apparel. However, the company has made little progress in providing a living wage for its
workers and rarely use eco-friendly materials, even though they are a member of the Sustainable
Apparel Coalition. And, if these unsustainable clothes are thrown away, these purchases will
continue to pile up in landfills or are incinerated, adding to the gas emissions that further deplete
our ozone layer. So while these items may appear like quiet the steal, we are neglecting how
hurtful these purchases can be.

Thrifted jeans from a vintage store. Photo courtesy of Langley Ward.


Luckily, more resourceful choices can be (quiet literally) at our fingertips. First off, thrift shops
can bring the best of both worlds; with cheap and reused clothing, these stores reduce the amount
of waste that we, as consumers and donors, produce. Secondly, although it is a more expensive
yet selective route, there are a plethora of different online and in-person stores that pride
themselves on sustainable fashion. For instance, Christy Dawn, an eco-friendly online shop, has
a variety of vintage, decently affordable clothing and footwear that prides itself on their
sustainable methods, unlike online shops like Shein. Just by replacing the purchases you make
with one company can decrease fast fashion’s impact on the world.


Though these resources are convenient to many of us in Silicon Valley, we have to acknowledge
our privilege when addressing sustainability in fashion. Especially with high-priced, sustainable
online stores, we shouldn’t scrutinize those who have just enough money to purchase more
affordable items with the change in their pockets. But, since many of us, especially in this area,
can afford these more eco-friendly purchases, it’s time to sacrifice a little in order to help protect
our world, no matter how insignificant the purchase may be.

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