Makenna McBrierty

Makenna McBrierty
Environmental Science student at the University of Vermont

“As an Environmental Science student (and a young woman who cares deeply about having nice clothing and a well developed sense of style), the waste byproducts of our fashion industry caused by the rampant consumerism of the 21st century is constantly at the forefront of my mind. 

Since I first began researching the clothing industry about five years ago, I have been inspired to do my part in many ways. I always check fabric content tags to ensure I’m only buying natural materials (NO poly-‘s, acrylic, spandex, etc.), I shop solely through thrifting or sustainable fashion stores like Reformation and Pact, I’m constantly sewing, repairing, and repurposing what I can, and I always ensure that I own and use my clothes for at least two-three years before I donate them. 

When buying new items, I focus less on what is trending at the moment and more on what I personally gravitate to and can see myself wearing far into the future. And, of course, I always come back to Orsola de Castro’s fabulous, “The most sustainable garment is already in your wardrobe,” quote.

We should not be producing clothes that disintegrate while you’re wearing them. I’ve heard countless stories – especially living on a college campus – of girls buying hundreds of dollars worth of clothes from big fast fashion brands and throwing these items away after a single use. A rampant yearning to participate in consumerism is deeply intertwined with the need to keep up with the ever-changing beauty standards and trend cycles. Fast fashion allows for this to happen as quickly as it takes the internet to run its course…which can often be a matter of days. Obviously, the ultimate power to change lies in the hands of these large corporations. But studies show that when buyers have been deterred from a certain product, it can be a critical hit to the company’s revenue, which I believe us shoppers should keep in mind.

The consumer mindset is one thing, and what happens when these pieces enter the environment is a whole other beast. The carbon emissions from what it takes to transport them to the landfill, the microplastics and toxic chemicals leached into the surrounding landscape from their composite synthetic materials breaking down, and the greenhouse gases released from their presence are a lot to consider. And this doesn’t even mention the inhumane and deeply non-environmentally-friendly practices these pieces were created with in the first place.

Being aware of your clothing’s sustainability rating is a privilege…but it really shouldn’t be. Our society has been structured to be fast paced and superficial, and fast fashion is the ugly amalgamation of this fact.”


Next Post