Sustainability is not a priority for most students, nor for the rest of Gen Z. And it’s true, because buying sustainably isn’t the most practical thing. Between classes, work and maintaining their social life, students have a lot to navigate. Even in the midst of their busy lives, students can have an impact on the environment.
Sustainable fashion refers to clothing that is produced or accessible in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. By making sustainable purchasing decisions, consumers can mitigate the damaging effects of the fashion industry on the environment, as well as the unsafe working conditions it promotes. Sustainable purchasing practices can take many forms, from donating old clothes to buying less clothes or buying used.
Sustainable fashion is also referred to as slow fashion, serving as a direct reaction to fast fashion, an alarming trend in recent decades.
Quick mode is “an approach to creating and marketing clothing that emphasizes making fashion trends available to consumers quickly and inexpensively. The trend has only gotten worse with social media, where clothes are seen as cute one day and hideous the next.
According to the United Nations Environment Program, the fashion industry is responsible for 2-8% of global carbon emissions and is the second leading cause of water wastage, which is more than all international flights and maritime transport combined.
Fast fashion doesn’t just harm the environment. According to Ecothes, a sustainable fashion website, 93% of fast fashion brands don’t pay their employees a living wage.
These statistics are certainly a source of concern for any student. Fortunately, it is evident that a growing percentage of students are now considering shopping in a sustainable manner. Some even do it by accident.
As thrift stores, vintage markets and individual resale platforms gain popularity, the younger generations strive to shop in a sustainable manner. If sustainability can be achieved by accident, imagine the impact we as students could have if we bought with intention.
Social media has had an impact in convincing teens and students to buy sustainably. A notable example of an unintentionally sustainable fashion influencer is Emma Chamberlain. The YouTuber-turned-list celebrity has paved the way for vintage internet savings and shopping for millions of teens.
Chamberlain had a major impact on me. I started second-hand shopping in September 2020. Depop is a useful resource that has surfaced in recent years. It is a great place to sell and buy second-hand or handmade items. I discovered Depop when I was in my final year, but it took me almost 8 months to find the courage to order anything. When I finally did, I wasn’t disappointed. My first Depop purchase was a pair of vintage Wrangler jeans. These beauties were less than half the price of a pair of Levi’s, and they’re second-hand, so they’re not just trendy; they are durable.
I deepened my research into sustainable fashion when I wrote an article on Depop for Alice, a female campus lifestyle magazine. I had just made my first Depop purchase and was obsessed with the app. I learned how accessible sustainable fashion is to students.
What’s even more promising is that second-hand shopping revenue actually increased during the quarantine period of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to ThredUP Resale Report 2021, 33 million people bought second-hand for the first time during quarantine.
âWe are in the early stages of a radical transformation in retail. Consumers prioritize sustainability; retailers are starting to embrace reselling, âsaid James Reinhart, co-founder and CEO of thredUP. âPolluting industries have the power to transform when technological innovation collides with the motivations of consumers, businesses and governments. We saw it with electric cars, solar power and then circular fashion.
Slowly but surely, second-hand shopping is becoming more and more accessible and attractive to consumers. The preconception of sustainable fashion is that it’s expensive and not trendy. The sustainable fashion industry is getting rid of this idea thanks to its best spokespersons: Generation Z.
According to the same resale report by thredUP, the resale market is expected to be valued at $ 77 billion in five years, compared to $ 36 billion today. He reported that thrift stores and second-hand shopping are both “championed” by Gen Z, who are “a generation that has made its mark to prioritize diversity, sustainability and more conscientious purchasing.
As young people, students around the world are actively changing our view of consumerism. We have an obligation to set this standard for future generations, with equal value in fashion and sustainability.
Anyone can convert and become a consumer in the sustainable fashion industry, and now is the time to start. Tuscaloosa is a great place to shop in a sustainable way. The city has local thrift stores like America’s Thrift Store, Plato’s Closet, and the Druid City Vintage Vendor Market. The options are there; now it’s up to us to pursue them.
When students buy sustainably, they save money, protect the environment, and create unique wardrobes. It may seem daunting at first, but practicing sustainability is an accessible habit that only takes a little practice. As busy university students, we may not always care about the environment, but we should always try to be aware of our impact.