Save the Earth and our wallets

Illustration by Angelo Sanchez

With consumers’ increased interest in eco-friendly products, actions and lifestyles, everything seems to be looking up for the welfare of our planet.

That is, until someone takes a reluctant peek at their bank account. I’ve wondered if everyone is trying to live a more sustainable life, why is it that only the upper class can afford it?

Looking into average pricing for ordinary women’s T-shirts from Patagonia, Reformation and Aurorei was shocking.

Patagonia’s price for women’s T-shirts was roughly estimated to be $40 after taxes, Reformation’s average price was estimated to be $50 after taxes and Aurorei’s rough estimate of a standard T-shirt price was a whopping $90 after taxes.

As a broke college student, my wallet and I audibly gasped at the sight of these figures. That’s a lot of money for a plain T-shirt similar to what could easily be found on the clearance rack at Forever 21 at a fraction of the price, although that company isn’t as concerned with sustainability.

The most sensible assumption as to who could actually afford these prices are either the extremely well-off and well-dressed nature enthusiasts, snobby frat boys who attend posh liberal arts schools on the East Coast or trendy and stylish Instagram influencers.

I was not surprised, yet still enraged by a recently published comment on Aurorei’s website.The comment stated that “although sustainable fashion is growing in popularity, it is still a niche industry.”

However, if a company is claiming everyone needs to make an effort to clean up our planet, they should make an effort to allow the change to happen by lowering their prices.

Patagonia, known by some as Patagucci, is known for its expensive outdoor gear. An article from CRM, a business-customer relations company, stated “54% [of their customers] make efforts to buy fairtrade products.” In other words, a little over half of their demographic actually seeks to help the Earth. This confirms the status symbol that sustainable fashion brands hold in today’s society.

While there are many sustainable brands that are overpriced, some appear to be kind to online shoppers’ checking accounts and to the planet. They just aren’t as popular as these expensive brands for whatever reason.

The first company that comes to mind is Kotn. Not only does Kotn use organic, hand-picked, direct trade Egyptian cotton, but it also donates money with every purchase to help build schools and pay teachers for children in the Nile Delta to be able to get laptops and more. Nothing is better than donating to an amazing cause that doesn’t break the bank.

Everyone deserves to have the choice to help save our planet. Admittedly for some, the sustainability trend has sparked more interest into the look of the clothing rather than the topic of putting hard-earned dollars into environmental sustainability.

Nonetheless, it is still important that everyone is able to make a difference, and a price tag shouldn’t negate anyone’s ability to do so. Shopping second-hand at thrift stores such as Savers or Goodwill can create a trendy outfit that is much cheaper and more sustainable than using the energy that comes with creating new clothing, no matter the amount of sustainable branding that the company advertises with.