Sustainable Shopping Doesn’t Have to Empty Your Wallet

Loewy Noud, Staff Writer

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There is no doubt that environmental awareness is increasing every day. Campaigns for less plastic, less energy use and less fossil-fuel burning are plastered on social media, and some people are even making big changes. Straws are becoming shameful, solar energy is popular and electric car sales are at an all-time high.

I think all of this change is amazing, but I wish sustainable and ethical fashion practices received the same focus.

As a fashion lover and avid shopper, but also an environmental advocate, I think fast fashion today is a tough balance. If I had the financial option to only shop designer and have the assurance that my clothes were created ethically, I would. But I don’t, so much like other high schoolers with limited shopping money, I end up finding less expensive options to mix with some of my nicer pieces.

Old Navy, Forever 21, H&M and even places like Target have been criticized for their use of sweatshops in lesser-developed countries. They take advantage of low labor costs and lack of government regulations to create almost unbelievably low prices for clothing items.

You can find a t-shirt at H&M for $3, but the child who worked to produced it may only be making that in a day.

I think most teens forget these things when they’re searching through racks of clothing or if they do have an awareness, they can’t afford to buy from popular sustainable clothing stores.

But there are affordable options for sustainable and ethical clothing purchases. Buying second-hand, which is incredibly affordable, or purchase from fair-trade stores and websites are both reasonable. I think the most encouraging change I’ve seen in fashion is the popularity of purchasing second hand.

Many of my peers have been excited to show off their Goodwill or Avalon Exchange finds, something that may not have been as common only a few years ago. Thrifting is becoming a cool way to find unique pieces and less of a way to save money, although it is a great way to watch your spending.

If you’re not stuck on buying brands, or focused on only wearing the latest trends, think of purchasing sustainably. You just might find your new favorite item and better than that you can know it was created ethically and environmentally friendly.

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