COLUMN: Over-consumerism is damaging our environment


Kyara Morales-Rodriguez, Columnist

In a time when shopping on fast fashion sites such as Shein, H&M and many more online retailers has become increasingly popular, making sure we reduce our fashion environmental impact is more important than ever.

The term “cheugy” (pronounced chew-gee) has been growing in popularity, a slang adjective mocking someone who is “uncool” because they have fallen out of touch with current trends.

This term is doing nothing for the fashion sustainability movement, making consumers rush to fast fashion sites to buy clothing pieces or accessories to get ahead of trends.

Because clothing consumption has been increasing, so has clothing production. According to a 2017 report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, global clothing production has doubled in the past 15 years.

Things become trendy and un-trendy so quickly that people are no longer buying clothes to last them years, instead buying clothes for however long that article of clothing is trendy for.

According to the Business of Fashion’s 2019 State of Fashion Report, one in three young women consider a garment worn once or twice to be old. The report also says that “one in seven consider it a fashion faux-pas to be photographed in an outfit twice.”

Because of these quickly changing trends, people are throwing away their clothes as soon as they become “uncool.”

It has become increasingly common to wear clothes a couple of times before throwing them away.

According to the EPA’s “Facts and Figures about Materials, Waste and Recycling,” the “main source of textiles in municipal solid waste (MSW) is discarded clothing.”

The report went on to state that 11.3 million tons of MSW textiles ended up in landfills in 2018. That number is only increasing as the years go by, with fashion waste being expected to increase to 148 million tones by 2030.

Because people today crave newness, fashion companies are working double-time to keep up with trends, producing clothing quickly and cheaply. This over-consumerism is negatively impacting the environment.

According to the UN Environment Programme’s 2019 press release titled “UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion addresses damage of ‘fast fashion’,” the fashion industry “accounts for a staggering 8-10 percent of global carbon emissions. […] Part of these emissions come from pumping water to irrigate crops like cotton, oil-based pesticides, machinery for harvesting, and emissions from transport.”

I’m very understanding that for people who can’t afford more expensive, sustainably-made clothing, these fast fashion sites are their only option. I also understand that a lot of people gravitate toward these sites because they provide a good variety of sizing options.

But there is a big difference between buying a couple of pieces of clothing you will wear for years and buying hundreds of dollars worth of clothes you will only wear a few times before throwing them away.

We all need to be smarter about how we shop, and there are many ways to do so, including…

1. Buying less.

2. Thrift shopping.

3. Trading clothes.

4. Investing in pieces that last longer.

5. Repairing clothes rather than throwing them away.

Keeping up with fashion trends is not as important as keeping our environment clean, and we all need to be doing our part.


Kyara Morales-Rodriguez is a senior English major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].