Something to Think About: An Open Letter to Students
Dear University of Maryland Fashionistas,
In the past year, the problem of climate change has skyrocketed. It’s no secret that luxury and fast fashion brands contribute to climate change, but I ask you to take a moment and read through why it actually matters, what it’s doing to the health of our planet, and how it is affecting your health too.
The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. But, how? Here are some statistics. Seven years' worth of the average person’s drinking water, for one pair of jeans, quickly turned into 5 trillion liters of drinking water- enough to supply fifty million people. One cotton based jacket- ten thousand liters of water. The list goes on of the natural resources needed to produce clothing.
Remember not too long ago when you were all longing for a nice and chilly fall day, sweater and leggings vibes, and you walked outside and it was seventy degrees? That is a direct effect of the fashion industry. Some of the more severe effects of global climate change include tropical storms, wildfires, droughts, and heatwaves. Air pollution. Water pollution. Acid rain. You name it, fashion contributes to causing it.
You might be thinking, ‘Yes pollution sucks but I don't really see it affecting me’. Perhaps you don’t notice the effects now, But, you won’t see them until it’s too late. You won’t think about it until your favorite vegetable to eat is wiped out because somewhere along the food chain something was slightly off. You won’t think about it until you have bronchitis or pneumonia from breathing in the particles of acid rain. You won’t think about it until there is no ozone layer to protect you, and you develop cancer from harmful UV rays. You shouldn’t have to see the direct effects of climate change to acknowledge the threat it poses - and that something needs to be done about it.
However, there are steps you can take to limit the ecological impact of fast fashion. Some more sustainable brands to buy from including Boden, Patagonia, Pact, Reformation, and Levis. Boden sell very basic, casual clothing for everyday and office wear. The brand sells clothes for children, men, and women. Patagonia sells athletic, casual clothing for outdoor activities, or lounging. Pact also sells clothing more along the lines of loungewear for everyday use, it’s so comfortable! Reformation is chic, New York-style clothing for women. And Levis sells denim- which is very hard to make sustainable.
If you want to do some research for your own on ethical brands, make sure to look out for greenwashing. Greenwashing is when brands claim their products are ethical and sustainable when they, in fact, aren’t. These brands mean to deceive customers into believing products are good (or less bad) for the environment. For example, H&M has a sustainable line called “Conscious.” They claim their products are eco-friendly, but how can a t-shirt that takes 20,000 liters of water to make, be ethical? It’s brands like these that you should watch out for if you really want to make a difference.