As the days get shorter and the leaves begin to change the world inches closer to Halloween. The block party may be canceled but the holiday is not, and soon the mailrooms will be flooded with packages from Amazon and Shein containing pieces for cute, trendy Halloween costumes. However, many of these pieces will never be worn again, contributing to the overwhelming problem of fast fashion and the waste of perfectly good clothes. This year when costume shopping, get pieces you will use again and help cut down on the national issue of overconsumption.
According to the New York Times, over 85% of discarded clothes end up in landfills where they rarely decay due to the increased use of synthetics in the production of clothes. Shopping services like Shein, Romwe and H&M allow consumers to buy large quantities of clothes for an extremely low price, as they are able to significantly cut costs with inhumane employment overseas. Employees work for minute wages in dangerous conditions in order to provide cheap clothing options for shoppers, and the environmental impact is enormous.
Ideally fast fashion could be avoided altogether. Unfortunately, there are no price-competitive alternatives, as it is nearly impossible to make an ethically sourced and produced $5 shirt. The reality is student consumers often cannot afford to purchase pieces in an ethical way, especially when nearly every available option is some sort of fast fashion, from Target to Zara to Amazon. In a small town like Athens, shopping options are limited, especially for students who do not have a car. Fast fashion is often the only choice for students.
As Halloween approaches, students will begin to compile pieces for costumes, scouring for that one outfit that perfectly matches their costume idea. Often thrifting is an excellent alternative to fast fashion, but thrift shops always have something different, and therefore cannot be counted on when shopping for something specific. It is unrealistic to ask college students to stop shopping via fast fashion entirely, especially in situations like Halloween, when the outfits are used for just one weekend on a college budget. What can be asked of students, however, is to cut down on the overconsumption and wastefulness that accompanies the purchase of cheap clothing.
My advice? When buying clothing from fast fashion retailers, only buy pieces that can be worn again and again. Avoid trendy items that will be left unworn by the end of the season, and donate or repurpose old clothes you won’t re-wear rather than throwing them away. When picking pieces for your Halloween costume this year, start by shopping in your closet, or your friends’ closets, for anything you can use before you purchase something online. Then, when making a purchase, find items that fit your vision but you know will be worn for more than just one weekend.
Cheap products make it easy to waste clothing, as discarding a $4 shirt is a lesser financial burden then discarding a $100 one. However, the environmental impact is the same, or often even worse for those cheaper, fast fashion options. When Halloween shopping this year, keep in mind the impact your costume could have and opt for reusable pieces.
Katie Milliard is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Katie by emailing her at [email protected].