Fast Fashion: Is Bargain Hunting Hurting Our Environment?

Simply put, we are a society that loves stuff.

We spend our lives accumulating things; things we need, things we want, things we feel will help enrich our lives in some way. Consumer culture has come to define our generation as the price of manufactured goods continues to drop with each year. According to CNN, the price of clothing has dropped 46% since 1983 and the prices of items such as toys and TVs have dropped upwards of 50%.

Stuff is cheaper and more accessible than ever before, and whether this is a good or bad thing is up to you.

Recently I came across a video on Facebook on fast fashion and its impact on the environment. Truth be told, I usually don’t pay too much attention when somebody posts a video on Facebook, however this one really stuck with me.

According to the video Americans purchase 20 billion new clothing items each year and 10 million tons of clothing end up in the dump each year. Between all the resources used to produce clothing, transportation of these items, and the space and emissions they release in landfills, fast fashion is taking a serious toll on the environment.

Now curious about the topic, I found another online source that stated fashion as the second dirtiest industry in the world next to oil. This shocked me, as I know when I think of pollution I think more about emissions than the clothes in my own closet.

I guess why this video fascinated me so much is the fact that I am such a lover of these fast fashion stores. Though a good portion of my closet is thrifted, stores like H&M, Forever21, Burlington Coat Factory, and Marshall’s hold a dear place in my heart. I mean who can pass up an adorable dress for $5 or shoes for under $10? As an avid bargain hunter these stores are an absolute dream, leave me alone with some clearance racks and I will be entertained for hours. So naturally I was a little stunned when I was told how my shopping habits were destroying the planet, a $3 shirt can’t do that much harm can it?

Now here comes the hard part: can we do anything about it?

According to the video the best solution is just to buy less clothes. Easier said than done, my overflowing closet would definitely prove so. Telling the girl who tried not to repeat an outfit all of high school to stop shopping isn’t quite going to work.

However there are ways to become more environmentally conscious without giving up your love for clothes and cheap fashion finds. Thrifting is a fun and easy way to recycle old clothes, and there are tons of great articles on theLala to get you started and inspired on your thrift store journeys. Also donating your old clothes to thrift stores keeps them out of landfills and into the hands of someone who can give it a new life. Or even handing down clothes to a younger sibling or swapping with friends can help reduce unnecessary waste.

The big takeway from all this would just be to simply raise awareness of the issue. Fast fashion has become such a huge part of our culture and one that some people (including myself) cannot easily part with. Unfortunately there are no easy concrete steps to solve this problem for good, but the first step to solving a problem is to identify it. I know we all can’t boycott H&M and become super green overnight, but maybe if we become more educated on the impact of our purchases we can make becoming environmentally friendly fashionable.

Christel Richard

Editorial Contributor, Indiana University Major: Marketing Her heart belongs to: Owls, faux fur, her dog Chip, and scenic long runs You can find her: Perusing the aisles of Goodwill on $0.99 Sunday

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