‘Sustainable style’ is easier said than done but student interest grows

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‘Sustainable style’ is easier said than done but student interest grows

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As climate change awareness spreads, today’s students are becoming young advocates for the premise of sustainable living. According to Angela Hood, Pioneer Earth Science teacher, this generation of teenagers, “has the ability to be more influential than any other generation before them.” From organized walkouts to sustainability coalitions, they seem more aware of the climate-related issues that are embedded within each facet of society. Yet, throughout all these conversations about a sustainable lifestyle, fashion seems to never be brought up.

According to the United Nations, 10% of global carbon emissions and 20% of water waste are produced by the fashion industry. While this is not the most substantial misuse of the world’s carbon budget, if this continues, by 2050 the fashion industry will use a quarter of the world’s carbon budget. The fashion industry proves to be a considerable user of the carbon budget, yet students rarely boycott their favorite fashion brands for their wasteful activity. 

The fashion industry also has a damaging social impact. Many children and adults in developing countries work in factories with dangerous conditions and are paid very little. Teenagers constantly fight for climate change policies like the Green New Deal, yet ignore the harmful background with the clothing that they put on their body each day. 

Some students at Pioneer feel that dressing sustainably is simply not very realistic, due to cost and accessibility. “I buy clothes that are easy to find, and brands that practice sustainability are less accessible,” said junior Noah Jackson. His wardrobe consists mainly of Urban Outfitters and other fast fashion brands, similar to his peers. Brands that strictly focus on sustainability, like Reformation, tend to sell jeans that cost around $128, while Forever 21 sells jeans for $28. “I think I’ve been thrifting once, and honestly it wasn’t that successful,”  said Jackson. If accessibility is low and cost is high, fast fashion brands are able to thrive with their abundance of locations and staggeringly low prices. This is why teens seem to be turning away from sustainable clothes that are too inaccessible and expensive to find.    

Junior Sarah Beybeck, co-president of the Sustainability Coalition at Pioneer, has a completely different outlook than her peers when it comes to dressing sustainably. For Baybeck, sustainability is something she tries to practice in all aspects of her life, from reusable items in her lunchbox, to the clothes she wears everyday. She is calling on her peers to follow her in actually practicing what they preach when possible. “If you can’t vote, you have to put your money where your mouth is,” she said. 

Many skeptics say that sustainable clothing is too expensive, but Baybeck insists that sustainable living should take precedence. “You can’t put a price tag on Earth,” Baybeck siad. “Thrifting, working with what you have, and investing in high quality pieces that will last a long time.” 

Fashion is considered by many to be the most personal form of self expression. Therefore, the way one dresses truly sends a message to the world around them. Adults like Hood believe that through the power of social media teens can influence each other on how to dress by reposting brands they find interesting and just by blatantly speaking their minds.“There was nothing I could have done when I was 16. I don’t even think we had Myspace yet, but you guys have the power to effect real change through social media,” said Hood. It is clear that teens are interested in sustainable fashion but many just do not know where to start. They all know the effects of global warming but they do not know how their clothing is directly contributing to it.