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How to Shop Ethically

Have you heard of the term “Fast Fashion?” According to Good On You, a website that aggregates ethical brands, said,  “Fast fashion can be defined as cheap, trendy clothing, that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed.” 

Fast Fashion is embodied in any trendy article of clothing one would buy for cheap and throw out after just a few wears. Clothing companies like Forever 21, H&M and online stores such as Shein and Zaful are all guilty of participating in fast fashion, selling unethically made clothes for affordable prices. 

Fast Fashion is a problematic trend with employment of child laborers who suffer poor conditions and create a massive amount of waste. In 2015, landfills received 10.5 million tons of textile waste, according to the EPA. 

Jazmine Brown, author of and PLNU almunus, said this about fast fashion: “It’s one of the top industries to utilize labor trafficking, it pollutes our natural resources and is embraced by the arms of greed.”

Fast fashion is popular with high school and college students as it is incredibly cheap, which can be convenient for college students on a budget. Many stores such as Reformation, Free People or Urban Outfitters avoid selling unethically made clothes, but  are expensive and certainly not within the bounds of a college budget. I have compiled three ways YOU can shop ethically and save money as a college student. 

  1. Use what is already in your wardrobe. Many of us have tons of pieces in our wardrobe that can be worn in so many different ways. Think of a plain, classic white tee shirt. You can crop it as a summer item, layer scarves and a jacket on top as a winter piece, or dress it up by adding jewelry. So many uses for one article of clothing, without harming the environment! 
  2. Swap Clothes. is an online store where you can swap clothes with anyone in the US. Customers will add pictures of their clothing or accessories online. The description on their homepage is “Rehashing is an environmentally-conscious way to get rid of clothes you don’t use in exchange for clothes you will use. You trade your stuff with others who are seeking a new library or wardrobe and in exchange revamp your collection. And we won’t charge you a thing.” 
  3. Thrift. There are at least 5 thrift stores within five miles of campus, all of which offer cheap clothes that are lightly used. Humble Heart Thrift Store- Ocean Beach, San Diego Rescue Mission Thrift Store, The Salvation Army, The Rock Thrift Store and Goodwill.  Lauren Niegocki, a freshman nursing major, opened up to me about her thrifting habits. “I go thrifting usually 3-4 times a month, my closet is about 25% thrifted. My favorite place to thrift is Goodwill because it is consistently clean and has a large variety [of clothes].” 

 Featured at the top is Jazmine Brown’s “Buyerachy of Needs”; some of the basics you should try out before buying new clothes.


About the author

Guimel Sibingo

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