Gelsey Garcia ‘21
Major: Chemistry
Minors: Mathematics and Philosophy

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Georgia Arbuckle-Keil, Professor of Chemistry


In a society that tries to mute your individuality, it is easy to see how people are drawn to fashion as a form of expressing themselves; fashion serves as a great outlet for self-expression as trends are constantly evolving in the same way we evolve throughout our lives. However, there is a costly environmental price that we pay whenever we purchase fast fashion that has led to clothing and textiles to be one of the largest contributors of microplastics in the ocean. During the washing process, microfibers are released from synthetic clothes with man-made polymers such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic, and these microfibers eventually make their way past the water treatment facilities into our rivers, lakes, and oceans. As a result, these microplastics move up into the food chain as they are consumed by marine life, which humans later ingest in seafood. Information on the long-term effects this cycle has on our health is still unknown, yet the potential hazards are actively being investigated. Scientists are roughly aware of the average amount of plastic a person consumes, however the potential long-term threats these plastics have on our bodies has yet to be discovered. It is concerning that the detrimental health threats will be known when it is too late. The issue of fast fashion and its impact on plastic pollution is still in its early stage, which leaves room for innovation to emerge and more sustainable options to be easily accessible for all. In the meantime, I believe it is more important to be a consumer activist than an ethical consumer. Although the two are not mutually exclusive, our planet benefits from the conscious choices we make daily.