How can textile waste in the United States be reduced by promoting more sustainable lifestyles?

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What is Fast Fashion and How Does it Hurt the Environment?

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The term fast fashion is often thrown around, but not many know all of its adverse implications on the environment. In simple terms, it can be defined as the rapid production of cheap clothing bought by consumers based upon the ever-changing trends. This billion-dollar industry is promoting the increase of textile waste and the use of unethical production practices. Cheaply made products are bought in large amounts, only to be worn a hand full of times as the trends pass. Big brands swiftly analyze the market and use cheap labor to create weekly launches of clothing. Due to this lack of design effort and quality, these items end up not fulfilling the hopes of consumers and end up cluttering landfills.

The fast fashion industry is overproducing to feed the over consuming population. The lifespan of these pieces have become much shorter as production and material costs have been cut. After clothing rips or goes out of style, it is sent to donations centers or straight to the dump. Now you may be wondering, how is this such a major harm to the environment? Well, it has been estimated that on average, a consumer throws out around 71 pounds of textiles every year, a massive increase from previous years. The fashion industry produces roughly 39 million tons of textile waste annually, not to mention, it is also responsible for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions. These statistics will only worsen as time goes on and it is our responsibility to take action.

With the increase of clothing consumption in America, thrift stores have started to drown in their donations. They do not have the facilities or resources to display all of the clothing. Though many options are utilized, clothing still ends up being sent to landfills. Good Will sends around 5% of its donations to landfills annually. This may not seem like a big number, but it adds up to be millions of tons of textiles. Donating massive amounts of clothing, though seems to be helpful, can have some negative effects. Thisd is why reducing consumption is so important, it tackles the issue at the source.

Textile Waste

How can so many items be going to waste when there are so many in need?

What I am Doing For Now

My platform on Instagram will be a place for people to learn ways to become more sustainable, starting with their closet! Informational posts will include tips on upcycling, resources for sustainable brands, and even cute videos to inspire people to go thrifting (see video below).  The world of sustainability can be daunting at first, but my page would be a place to begin that journey. The more information about sustainability that is out there, the better the environment will be. Promoting sustainability tips, like the ones listed below, give people the opportunity to be a part of this movement. 

  • How to get out tough stains
  • Ways to rework old items
  • Beginners guide to stitching old clothing
  •  Resources for clothing recycling
  • My top affordable sustainable brands
  • Thrifting Tips
Now it is Your Turn

What You Can Do to Help

Sustainability does not need to be a total life change at first. Your first little steps are some of the most important.

Assess Your Consumption

Next time you want to go shopping, think about what you truly need and will actually wear. Try shopping sustainably with thrift stores or reselling sites like Depop. This shopping style helps thrift stores clear out inventory and create a more circular industry.

Think of Ways to Reuse

Old clothing can often be reused as rags or up cycled to be a completely new piece! Part of the fun with sustainability it being creative with your solutions.

Talk to Peers

Notifying others about this issue is just as important as changing your own lifestyle. This is imperative for making this issue well known. Asking them to go thrifting instead of the mall can be a much more sustainable and rewarding trip.

Donate to Shelters

With thrift stores being overloaded with donations, your items may not even be rehoused. Instead, try reaching out to local homeless and women’s shelters.

Thank you again for checking out my webpage! I hope that you can take this information and spread the word about the importance of sustainability! All of the information I found is cited here. 

Please let me know if you think my start-up idea would be effective? Also after reading, what are some ways you will change your own shopping habits? 




  1. Hi Kathryn, this was an awesome presentation! I never knew that washing synthetic clothing could lead to us ingesting microplastics. I really enjoyed how you used concise and impactful information. I believe your Instagram page is a great idea! It will encourage people to reuse their old clothing and to shop more sustainably all the while being easily digestible through Instagram posts. As for myself, I will start to visit more thrift stores to shop more sustainably, rework and reuse old clothing, and look t

  2. Hi Kathryn, I really enjoyed reading through your page! I didn’t realize the extent of fast fashion and clothing waste in our country, and just how many pounds of clothes are thrown out each year. I also really like your Instagram idea, as I am sure many people are not aware of the ways to preserve old clothes and shop sustainably. As someone who shops a lot myself, I will definitely be aware of the stores I buy from and try to only purchase from sustainable brands. I will also check out your Instagram page for ways to recycle and rework my clothes.

  3. Hi Kathryn, this is a very informative and well-researched presentation. I was not aware of how harmful fast fashion really is. I like how you said that “sustainability does not need to be a total life change at first. Your first little steps are some of the most important”, and I think it’s important to keep this mindset as complete change is very daunting at first. Your Instagram page is a great idea as spreading awareness leads to change and can inspire people to consciously make sustainable choices.

  4. What a great presentation! /Lena

  5. Hi Kathryn! I loved reading your presentation! I think your idea of having a page on Instagram that spreads awareness and resources for sustainability would be really impactful, as many younger people (who account for a lot of this consumption) are on social media. Thank you for sharing your project!

  6. This is eye-opening, Kathryn! Great research, beautiful visuals, helpful advice.
    I like that you are focusing on one aspect of this environmental problem – awareness. Your impact will be significant. Good luck!

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