Fashion and Pollution

by Maleeha Khan ‘19

We live in a world where fashion is a statement of who we are, and that image of ourselves is constantly changing. Thanks to large fast-fashion retailers, like Forever 21 and H&M, most of us can easily access affordable clothing to regularly refresh our wardrobes, and by extension, our image. Yet most don’t realize the catch to buying cheap clothes; fast-fashion chains sell clothes made from plastic-based textiles, such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic. While these fabrics don’t seem too unfavorable to many, they can be detrimental to the environment.

Plastic-based textiles aren’t naturally found in nature; they’re almost entirely manmade. Unlike cotton, which grows naturally and have long, structured fibers, plastic-based fabrics usually contain shorter fibers that tend to break off sooner. Aside from having this quality issue, the fallen fibers can pollute the environment by piling up in the oceans and harming the wildlife.

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent this fiber breakage; this phenomenon occurs in all types of clothing, and nothing can really prevent it. However, there are things we can do to limit plastic fibers from polluting our world. One action we can do is to limit the amount of plastic clothing that we purchase. By doing so, our clothes will have less of a chance to harm the environment. Another tip for us is to keep our clothes for longer periods of time. Newer clothes tend to shed more fibers rather than older clothes, so keeping our older t-shirts and cardigans for a little bit longer than planned may be beneficial for the environment.

Of course, these ideas are all only scratching the surface, but we need to start somewhere to stop pollution. It is still entirely possible to be environmentally conscious and a fashionista at the same time, but we need learn how to be cognizant about our fashion choices while caring for the world we are on.