Opinion: Do your best to shop ethically

Marissa Dulay, Staff Writer

“Fast fashion” is a term coined to describe large companies mass-producing items at cheap prices. Many say it is an unethical way to create clothing, since it has caused persistent damage to the planet and humanity. So, what can you do instead?

Factories use an excessive amount of water and greenhouse gases to create clothing, which is causing again a heavy amount of toxins to be released into the air. However, fast fashion does not only affect the environment, it also affects the people making the clothes. 

Workers are forced to work in unacceptable, hazardous conditions with very low pay. It is specifically bad in Asia, where the working conditions have been described as “slave labor.” 

So, what can you do to not support these companies? There are many ways to shop sustainably that do not help continue the fast fashion industry.

Admittedly, it can be difficult to not give in and buy something cute from Forever 21 since stores like that are so easily accessible. However, there are ongoing lists of sustainable clothing stores. 

Companies like Patagonia, Lucy & Yak, Levi’s, Boden, and ABLE are some popular affordable, ethical clothing brands. Many of these brands are only available online or they could be difficult to buy from. So, if those companies are not easily accessible, then shopping second hand might be the next best option. 

Shopping at thrift stores is an inexpensive and easy way to buy clothing, but it also has recently become a debated issue.

Since there has been a rising number of people choosing to buy clothes from second hand stores, the prices have been rising and consumers are angry. 

Some people are frustrated with the fact that lower income people might not be able to afford what they may need at these second hand stores because of the rising prices. Meanwhile, people who could generally afford to pay more will shop at thrift stores just to save money.

Another reason people are upset with higher-income people shopping at secondhand stores is because they are buying all the “good stuff” before the people who really need it can obtain it. 

Pricing will continue to rise as long as there is a demand for it and there has been a demand for clothes forever. Thrift stores are often non-profits that continue to provide jobs and low cost clothing. It is not the consumer’s fault for the rising prices, but the company’s.

Most thrift stores get more donations than they can even sell, so you do not have to feel bad about buying something for yourself at the thrift store because they have an endless supply of items. 

It can be difficult to know if what you are supporting is ethical. Doing your research on fast fashion companies is helpful for avoiding them. Find companies you feel comfortable with supporting and buy from them, instead of an unethical company you may dislike the morals of. Whether it’s online/in store shopping or thrifting, support what you agree with.