Take a moment and think about how many Rider T-shirts you have gotten that you only wore one time or have never worn. Remember that colorful “It’s a great day to be a Bronc” shirt you got at orientation? When you consider how year after year those same shirts are ordered in bulk, you start to realize how many end up never getting used. So, where does that waste go? This scenario is an example of the problems we face in today’s fast-fashion industry. What is fast-fashion and why is it bad? Fast fashion is the rapid production of cheap garments that are produced by retailers to quickly replicate catwalk trends without regard to sustainability.
Fast-fashion clothing is efficiently produced and cheaper for the public, but it is coming at a greater cost for our planet and all living things on it. The industry is responsible for an enormous amount of waste that goes unseen, unchecked and underestimated. Textile waste is a growing problem that negatively affects freshwater sources, landfills and the livelihood of underserved communities that are in close proximity to the factories. The garment supply chain often stretches over many countries and we have no idea where our clothes came from, who made them and what the real cost behind the cheap tag is. These practices of quantity over quality have disrupted a quality fashion cycle and have led to a disposable fashion mentality — but don’t have to play fast fashion’s game.
“It is super easy to thrift your typical retail purchases. Thrifting is not only great for using your dollar to vote for sustainable fashion, but it also is putting your money into a good cause,” said Danielle Balsamo, the graduate assistant for the office of sustainability.
“Thrift stores are usually donating and rerouting the money made from donations to a greater cause. The fast fashion industry, on the other hand, needs to be held accountable and develop a triple bottom line; planet, profit and product.”
At the Office of Sustainability, we have a mission to reduce, reuse and recycle all materials possible. Each year we try to find a way to reuse or recycle those old Rider T-shirts as the base material for reusable bags, jewelry and cleaning rags.
Luckily, sustainable fashion practices are not only good for our planet but can be great for your expression and style as well.
ThredUP is a great way to save money and be sustainable while shopping the latest trends or selling your own unwanted wardrobe pieces. If you are looking for something fancy to wear for a special occasion, Rent The Runway is a great place to start.
“For me, having the limitation of budget and materials makes my work more creative. With the restriction that I can’t just buy everything I want for a production, I have to come up with solutions that feel more authentic,” says Rider’s Fine and Performing Art Head of Costume Design Robin Shane who is a fierce supporter of the sustainable fashion movement.
There are also ways to avoid feeding the fast fashion monster at Rider, like recycling the textile waste, upcycling old clothing into a new look and swap styles with your friends. We have HELPSY donation boxes by Beckett Village and behind Hank and Bonnie Moore Hall for unwanted or unusable clothing and linen items.
You can join us at our clothing swap shops every semester, where you can bring your unwanted clothes and leave them for people to take as well as snatching up some new pieces that others bring.