Spirit Week’s “Fast Fashion” Practices Must Change

October 6, 2022


Sutton Inouye

Fast fashion outfits are generally not worn again. Illustration by Sutton Inouye

Spirit Week is chock full of fun traditions, games and assemblies. To promote spirit and general enthusiasm, every day of Spirit Week has a different dress-up theme. While the sequin tube tops and sparkly tutus hold some of my favorite memories from the past years, Spirit Week dress-up days generate problematic overconsumption and promote fast fashion.

For those who choose to dress up, five spirit days means five different outfits that they may have trouble finding in their closet considering the funky themes. So students will buy new items for each day, typically from Amazon and unlikely to be worn again.  

One such find, the classic bandeau sequin top, can be seen around campus more than a few times in each of the four grade colors on “Color Wars” Monday. Many will also sport a royalty cape for icon day or a cowboy hat for country vs. country day. Students just have to search and click to have their spirit days fully planned out and supplied. 

Those quick clicks have had a hefty impact on the environment. In 2021, Amazon contributed 71.54 million metric tons in carbon dioxide emissions. While Menlo spirit week is clearly not the primary cause of millions of tons of carbon dioxide, our environmental impact is still contributing that number; any emission contributes to the build up. You may think that your one shirt from Amazon doesn’t make a difference, but 300 other students are thinking that as well. 

These fast fashion outfits are also generally not worn again. They sit in closets or get thrown away, waiting to be refreshed for the next year, waiting for the cycle to continue. 

In addition to the environmental impacts, the buy-and-die tradition of Spirit Week wear is expensive. Every clothing piece mentioned above is over $15. That price over the course of multiple days and multiple outfits adds up quickly. Although Menlo students exist in a privileged community, it is still a burden to anyone to spend almost $50-100 on dress-up days. 

None of this is to say that Spirit Week is bad or that students should not dress up. Personally, I love dressing up, covering myself in glitter, taking pictures with my friends and ordering a sparkly top every year. However, it is important to be aware of both the carbon impact and equitability of the fast fashion trends that Spirit Week highlights.

There are ways to minimize these issues without fully getting rid of Spirit Week; we can maintain our fun traditions while still making progress. An obvious solution would be to rely on what is naturally in one’s closet, but, to be fair, that won’t always lend to the more fun outfits. Instead, it is super easy to borrow from an upperclassman, whether a sibling or a friend, who already has the items. Many spirit day themes repeat over the years, so finding someone prepped with the theme you are looking for is usually not a difficult task. Students should take various steps to make a major impact on lessening the harm of Spirit Week’s fast fashion problem.

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About the Contributor
Photo of Annie Stent
Annie Stent, Copy Editor

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 3

Favorite aspect of journalism: writing stories on topics I’m passionate about

Interests outside of school: volleyball, spending time with friends and family, walking my dogs

Class of 2023

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  • R

    Rachel ChouOct 8, 2022 at 7:52 am

    Nice article, Annie!