The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


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Lead Editorial: Drowning in drip

The environmental and ethical consequences of looking good
Evelyn Li
With labels of “sustainable,” “eco-friendly,” and “responsibly sourced” clogging the marketing of clothing brands, shopping for new clothing can be overwhelming at times.

From the February 2023 Issue of tjTODAY

What are the costs of looking good?

Fast fashion, the rapid production and sale of trendy clothing, is a practice that heavily contributes to the downsides of the fashion industry. Goods inspired by the latest celebrity or event, while perhaps fulfilling in the short term, have a variety of long term consequences when it comes to its labor sourcing and the environment.

To point out the obvious, fast fashion leads to a culture of waste. For those who can afford to, there’s no point in wearing clothes that have fallen out of style. The far more popular and unfortunately detrimental alternative is to simply trash or stash away the slightly used garments, ultimately sentencing them to an early fate.

The low prices for goods that are inherent to fast fashion are the result of the unfair labor systems companies rely on. In a statistic from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, over 75% of garments sold in the United States could be considered to have originated in sweatshops, or factories that take advantage of workers and their wages. When consumers choose to ride the wave of trendy items, they are fanning the flames of the dangerous conditions that underpaid workers employed by sweatshops labor in.

Ultimately, governments and corporations have the biggest responsibility to uphold standards in the production of clothes. It’s also important to acknowledge that some consumers can’t afford to buy from ethical brands. The consumers regularly buying hauls of clothing, only to wear each item a few times, are causing more harm. 

With whatever capacity we have, we should make an effort to reduce our contribution to unethical fashion practices. In addition to combatting wasteful habits and avoiding impulse buys, shoppers should embrace a culture of repurposing clothing. Donating old clothes means that someone else may benefit from the clothes hanging in the back of our closets, untouched.

Taking matters into your own hands, quite literally, can also make a difference. Learning how to sew and repair clothing yourself can remove the need to throw out goods because of one small hole or rip. 

Here at Jefferson, there exists a whole new vein of opportunities to help out your community. Using the platform that our wide range of extracurriculars offer, clothing drives could become a more common part of our school. All it takes is one club to coordinate and advertise the event in order to reach a population of roughly 2000 students, a majority of whom could contribute. 

Speaking of clubs, merchandise serves as yet another way in which students can make a difference. As opposed to using the popular company CustomInk, which received a sustainability rating of “We Avoid” by the organization Good on You, opt for a more local approach. 

We have a responsibility to do what we can, however seemingly small, to support a healthier future. Responsible sourcing from local businesses and shifting toward a culture more supportive of donating and repurposing old clothes are ways through which we can address this issue at the consumer level.

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