Campus Runway: How To Be Sustainable And Fashionable

When people think of pollution, they think of greenhouse gas emissions, exhaust fumes and billowing smoke stacks, but they almost never think of the clothes they wear. 

Putting this into perspective is difficult, especially since clothing is a large part of our lives, whether we recognize it or not. According to the Princeton Student Climate Initiative, if the fast fashion industry stays on its current course or gets worse, greenhouse gas emissions from the fashion industry are projected to increase by 50% within the next decade. 

But what is fast fashion, and is there even a way to fix it? Fast fashion is a fairly new concept in the fashion world, but it causes extensive damage to the planet, exploits workers and harms animals. According to website Good On You, fast fashion can be defined as cheap, trendy clothing that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments sold in lower-priced stores at breakneck speed to meet consumer demand. 

These clothing items are typically cheaply made and sold in stores accessible to many people. Unfortunately, the fast fashion industry not only affects the earth but also endangers the lives of many garment workers overseas. This type of fashion exposes people who work overseas, primarily women and sometimes children, to dangerous environments. These workers are paid low wages and have very few fundamental human rights. 

The 2013 collapse of a garment building in Bangladesh opened people’s eyes to the danger of this industry. The horrific disaster killed over 1,000 workers, creating a catalyst for change in the garment industry. 

A variety of factors can make shopping sustainably difficult. However, sustainable fashion is possible. Through research, sustainable fashion can be defined as using textiles that are manufactured, constructed and marketed in a responsible and conscious way that takes both environmental and socioeconomic impacts into account. I want to share some of my best tips for putting an end to fast fashion because it really changes your perspective to realize that what you buy at a store could affect someone halfway around the world.


Thrifting is one of the simplest ways to put an end to fast fashion. Trying to stay on top of the fashion trends can lead to shopping unsustainably. Many people think that the only way to be “in style” is to shop fast fashion, but that is not true. Many trends are recycled from the past, so what better way to look for those trends than at a thrift store? When thrifting, taking the time to look through the racks and seeing potential in certain pieces will allow you to create a whole new wardrobe — one that is unique from other people who are shopping fast fashion. My piece of advice is to donate one piece of clothing for every new piece you thrift to keep the cycle going. 

Good On You 

One of my favorite ways to shop sustainably is Good On You.  It is a website that provides an immense number of resources to help you create the sustainable closet of your dreams. For starters, you can search any brand on the website to get a sustainability rating. The website rates how well companies treat the environment, people and animals. They also provide an “overall rating.” Along with the ratings, Good On You curates hundreds of sustainable websites, breaking them down by category for the most efficient clothing search. 

Buy Less

Buying less clothing is a great way to ensure that you are not contributing to fast fashion. Let’s be honest, we probably haven’t touched half of the things in our closets in over a year, so why do we overbuy? The over-consumption of clothing is one of the biggest reasons why brands continue to push out more clothing. A capsule wardrobe that includes all your favorite, necessary pieces is a great closet hack. Purchasing staple pieces that are made well will ensure long-term use. 

Take Care of Your Clothes

While this tip may seem simple, it makes all the difference. Taking care of your clothes will ensure that you get the best use out of them. This is most important when doing laundry. Each garment has washing instructions. They aren’t included in vain. Properly washing our clothes will ensure longevity. When a piece does seem to be a little worn, never throw it away – always donate it. Throwing away clothing causes pollution on a large scale. Donating your “worn out” pieces can also provide clothing for someone who needs it. As they say, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

There are so many ways to create a better future for this planet. Being more conscious with our clothing choices is a great start. I encourage everyone to do their research and consider shopping sustainably in hopes for a beautiful, sustainable future. 

Farmerie is a Champion contributor.

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