Clothing controversy: The ethics of Black Friday and fast fashion

design and photo credit: DJ Pelles

Rushing through store aisles in hopes to reach the new item that is finally out and on sale is a common occurrence on Black Friday. Many people will experience waking up early to get a head start on holiday gifts and get good deals on everything.

In today’s digital world, many people resort to online shopping to fulfill their Black Friday wants. Online vs in-person shopping has been a debate among many for a while now, but with COVID-19’s impacts over the past couple years, people are more opinionated about their beliefs.

“I personally prefer in-person shopping. You know exactly what you are getting and how it looks on you before you make the purchase. Although I do get sucked into the world of online shopping due to the simplicity of ordering a shirt off of any given site, I would much rather go in person,” junior Taylor Stewart said.

Online shopping has been on the rise because of its ease and there are no concerns regarding getting sick. The convenience has allowed companies such as Shein to come to the surface and gain large popularity.

“Shopping online has definitely become more popular the past couple years with restrictions from COVID-19 as well as just the overall accessibility of the sites,” senior Quinn Shannon said.

On the downside, online stores often cycle through clothing trends more frequently and therefore increase the clothing items bought by the consumers. Overconsumption of clothes has many negative impacts on the environment.

“Producing a single shirt requires around 2700 liters of water, and the amount of energy used to even power the factory, which are likely fossil fuels. On a massive scale, getting the materials, transport of materials, making of the product, shipping of the product and the use of the product tons of fossil fuels are used, producing carbon emissions,” Secretary of Environmental Club and junior Alex Johnson said.

The cheap clothing made either for Black Friday or by websites like Shein speeds this process up and hurts the environment. While the cheap and trendy clothing can be nice to buy in moderation, being aware of the implications can help reduce them.

“Whenever I personally try to prevent the trends of fast fashion, I like to find my own ways to get second hand clothes. That can be anywhere from Goodwill, Plato’s Closet or even Depop. Not only is it cheaper, but also good for the environment. Additionally, before getting rid of an item of clothing I like to see if there is any way I can upcycle it to my liking. This involves cropping, fixing seams and using my resources at home to improve my clothes,” Stewart said.

There are many ways to help the climate crisis. Making sure the clothes that people purchase come from a quality source or have been used in the past so no new clothes are in the process of being made.

“On an individual level, supporting sustainable fashion brands makes a big difference. It’s really important that people do their research and know where their money is going. Thrifting and donating clothes are also other great and sometimes cheaper way to reduce your footprint and avoid some of those negative impacts,” Shannon said.

In the end, a little extra spending won’t be the end of the world, but it’s beneficial to be mindful of how society’s actions will impact the planet.