Green Column: Be a conscious consumer


Photo courtesy of Helena’s Facebook 

By Helena Kilburn

Staff Writer


Sewanee is undeniably a campus with style. Its classic architecture blends with the students who dress up for class in preppy, trendy, or thoughtfully distinct fashion. While every student has their own sense of style, it is fair to say that clothes and accessories are something that matters to many members of the student body.

As attention to environmental issues increases, so does attention to the causes of such issues. Solutions to these causes often come in the form of lifestyle changes. In a recent article, The Purple touched on the number people who are vegan in response to learning the detrimental effects animal agriculture has on the environment.

Some lifestyle changes are as simple as using a reusable cup on your coffee runs to Stirling’s, bringing a reusable grocery bag to the Pig, or recycling the scattered red solo cups that can be found around campus on a Sunday morning.

While these steps are great, a sustainable mindset needs to be applied to every part of your life, including where and how you buy your stylish class dress clothing items.

It is always astounding to hear people brag about how they get cute clothes for cheap. They often get such finds from stores like Forever 21, Target, and other “fast fashion” retailers.

The temptation of getting fabulous additions to your wardrobe without breaking the bank is high, but there is a level of consciousness that is missing here: cheap new clothes are cheap for a reason. They are made with cheap materials and by laborers paid low wages. There are obvious quality issues and alarming human rights issues, but it is also important to focus on environmental issues.

The fast fashion industry leads to incredible amounts of waste, while promoting extreme consumerism. Clothing items are sometimes only worn once or twice before they are discarded to fill landfills and replaced by cheaper clothing. Many of these companies outright violate environmental safety standards.

Deforestation is a huge result of fast fashion because companies destroy forests due to irresponsible practices in creating fabrics. They are destroying the environment to create cheap clothing.

Every new item of clothing you buy has an impact on the environment. The materials and energy that go into its creation often come from the destruction of nature. To help the environment, conscious consumerism is an important decision students can make.

There are many sustainable companies that are transparent with their practices and make efforts to minimize their environmental impact. Some companies create clothes as a way to help the environment, such as brands that use recycled materials or donate a percent of their profits to environmental organizations.

Sustainable fashion is a wonderful thing, but it is a substitute for unsustainable shopping, not a reason to buy something new. The best way to be fashionable and sustainable is to wear what you already have until you need something new.

Try to be conscious of where your fashion comes from, and be aware that spending more money usually means you are getting something that is worth that money: quality over quantity.

College students often do not have the money to spend on quality, but there is one way to get lots of great quality clothing items for very cheap and have zero negative environmental impact: go to the thrift store.