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The Student News Site of Tualatin High School

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Jordan Anderson
Staff Writer

“TikTok Made Me Buy It” leads to overconsumption nightmare

Photo+by+Olivia+Beauchemin
Photo by Olivia Beauchemin

In the era of microtrends, it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of viral aesthetics on TikTok. It’s exciting to see an influencer with a life that looks perfect and unattainable. TikTok influencers are often showing off their possessions, mostly made up of expensive makeup products and cheaply-made fast fashion.

Trends cycle fast. Only three years ago, there were tons of videos showing off leg warmers, pleated skirts and Y2K cami tops. As a result, people were buying these items in large quantities. These are all low-quality items bought from websites like Shein and Aliexpress. When the trending “Strawberry Dress” was around, everyday people were not buying the Lirika Matoshi handmade strawberry dress for $490; they were buying the “dupes” for no more than $20 off of dropshipping marketplaces, where the product was made in sweatshops by workers being paid unlivable wages. 

The influence of TikTok is no longer just in small niche circles of the internet. Big name brands are now focusing on promoting themselves mainly through TikTok, and Forbes predicts an average of 843.3 million monthly users by the end of 2023. When these mass amounts of people are closely following TikTok influencers that rely on microtrends, that leads to a huge increase in purchases of things that people never would have thought about before. 

TikTok users are being consistently advertised to, so every four to five TikToks, you can expect to find a TikTok shop paid promotion or an ad from a brand. By buying into these microtrends, you are purchasing cheaper, fast-fashion items with popularity that will wear out soon, fated to be thrown out, like other microtrends.

According to Popsci, over 20 billion shoes were produced globally in 2021, of which 300 million wound up in landfills in the United States. These shoes take 30-40 years to decompose. A chemical composition often found in sneakers, ethylene vinyl acetate, can take up to 1,000 years to fully decompose. If you realize what that looks like on a global scale, over 20 billion shoes being produced every single year is unsustainable for our planet. 

Matt Powell, sneaker expert, corporate vice president and sports industry analyst for NPD Group, claims it takes 18 months for a sneaker to be created, from its concept to being in stock in stores. It only takes 60 days for the sneaker to be physically made. This means sneakers take 6083 times longer to decompose than it takes for them to be made.

We need to act quickly before our landfills pile up indefinitely. If buying something new, you should be sure that the item was made ethically and sustainably, and really think about if you’re going to be wearing it often. Avoid buying materials like vegan leather, which may sound eco-friendly, but may be entirely made up of plastic depending on the store. Spending a little more on a high-quality piece means you are investing in a piece that will last you years, if taken care of properly. Take care of the clothing you already own, washing items only when necessary and patching up holes before throwing them into the ever-growing landfills. 

The most sustainable way to buy clothes is to buy pre-owned ones. Check the denim, leather and knit pieces in thrift stores, which are the materials that will last you longer. Avoid microtrends, and invest in a timeless wardrobe that will last you for many years.



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