End this consumerist madness

Grace Moore, Opinions Editor

As you pick up a shirt off the Forever 21 rack, you carry the weight of each child laborer that slaved over it. You carry the thirst from their water that’s filled with toxic dyes. You bear the weight of the thousands of pounds of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

This shirt holds the micro fibers that are slowly covering our water, until they’re in the fish we eat. Not only will you wear this shirt, you’ll be this shirt. The plastic you wear will eventually be inside you, as a part of your very digestive system. The weight is too heavy for you, so you put the shirt down, and walk out of the Forever 21. 

As you walk to your car, you see so many people with new clothes. You think to yourself, “If everyone else can buy clothes, so can I.” But you can’t buy clothes without the guilt getting to you. So you go to the new store next to the Forever 21 that claims to be “environmentally-friendly.” You buy your shirt guilt-free and move on. Right?

Buying from “environmentally-friendly” stores is still consumption, which results in more clothes ending up in landfills. Most likely, the clothes are still being made by child laborers in third world countries that will rarely ever see the means of their labor. They work tirelessly for our clothes, while we live in the illusion that we are somehow helping the earth. The “ethically” made clothes will always be more expensive than other fast fashion clothes. This means that eventually rich people will be able to afford new clothes, while poor people won’t, and they will have to buy from second-hand stores.

In the United States alone, 85% of our clothes end up in landfills each year. This includes clothes that were never bought. Most clothing waste comes from clothing companies, who throw away 13 million tons of textiles each year, according to a report by the BBC. This makes both “environmentally- friendly” fashion and fast fashion unethical.

Your only option is to thrift. This is everyone’s only option. In recent years, more and more people have taken to thrift stores in an effort to save the world from the abundance of waste that clothing creates. As people of all tax brackets flock to the thrift shop, the prices of clothes in those stores have gone up and up. Shirts that used to be $1.50 are now up to $5. Now, people that actually can’t afford to shop at regular clothing stores can’t even afford to go to thrift stores. People that thrift shop tend to think that they’re better than others, or the savior of the climate crisis, but that’s not the case; everything you do has its consequences, and until people realize that, there will never be real change towards shopping ethically. It’s so easy to ignore the evil that comes with the consumerism nature we’re born with, but it has to be faced.

Instead of letting this greed overtake us, we can practice solidarity with each other. If we learn to forget the value of our clothes, we can share with others. There’s already plenty of vintage clothing festivals, so instead of buying clothes people can bring clothes to swap for other clothes. If this idea really took off then perhaps fewer people would need to work in sweatshops, and clothes could be made by people who really care about fashion. There would be a significant decrease in the mass production of clothes, because we simply wouldn’t need or want as many clothing pieces. As a result, consumerism would dissipate further and further. If this happened, this would end the emptiness and shallowness that results from our constant need to consume, while giving us the opportunity to stop climate change in its tracks. Our world would heal with us. Look at it in its eye. Choose to share instead of practicing this greed.