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Riley Heruska
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We all know the feeling of walking into one of those massive cheap-fashion chains. The amount of clothing in some of the most popular locations is simply staggering, and how can we not love it? Of course I want to buy those giraffe pajama pants for $10 or the floor length dress with sparkles for $17. With prices almost too good to pass up, we can’t blame each other for indulging in the less expensive fashion depots.

However, one thing most of us are not thinking about is the aftermath of America’s obsession with inexpensive clothing. Sure, those leather knee-high boots from Forever 21 might be trendy now, but eventually, they are going to end up where all of your other cheap clothing does: the trash. In fact, the average American throws away 82 pounds of clothing every year. Most of these items end up in landfills, creating more waste than ever.

If retailers were honest with the public, they would admit that most cheap clothing isn’t made to last for very long. Hip stores for young people are looking to stay on top of current fashion trends, and as a result, they rotate out their items at a rapid speed. Many of their products aren’t made to withstand more than a few washes, and after your new Snoopy t-shirt has started to look a little ratty, you’re probably going to chuck it in the trash and head right back to the same affordable place where you got it.

Don’t get me wrong: you’re not a terrible person for avoiding high-priced fashion retailers. However, Americans simply cannot sustain the current shopping trends. Together, we send more than ten million tons of clothing to the dump every year. Experts say that the toll on the environment from such wastefulness is astronomical, and we can’t keep doing this for much longer if we care about our planet.

So, what can you do without shelling out megabucks to stay fashionable?

The best thing shoppers can do is buy fewer items that will last longer. Splurge on nice work clothes and sturdy shoes so that you don’t end up tossing them after a few wears. Look for items that won’t go out of style as soon as the wind blows. In the end, you’ll actually save yourself money and help the environment. You can also turn to re-sellers and charities if you absolutely must get rid of clothing.

Thankfully, many retailers are beginning to take steps in the right direction. Some are attempting to use more eco-friendly fabrics, and we're definitely moving in the right direction. Still, it's going to take more than a few shirts made of bamboo to get us out of this wasteful cycle. 

You don’t have to kiss H&M and your other favorites goodbye forever. Just rethink spending all of your wardrobe budgets on styles that will rot in a landfill next year. The planet will thank you later.

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