How VSCO Girls Are NOT Saving the Turtles

I must be getting old because it took me at least three weeks to finally understand what a VSCO girl is. By old I mean I’m several years out of high school. I didn’t think I’d lose the ability to keep on top of Internet trends this quickly, but oh well.

After watching hundreds of VSCO girl stories on Snapchat, I have concluded that VSCO girls are middle or high schoolers who wear enough scrunchies to cover their entire ponytail and both arms. They own several Hydro Flask water bottles each, and they save the turtles by using reusable straws. They also say “sksksksk” and “and I oop.” I had to ask my high school sister where “sksksksk” came from because—just what??

While a little trend like this is fun for a while, it will likely fade away. The one part I hope won’t fade is their effort to save the turtles. I strongly believe we should make little changes in our lives to reduce our impact on the planet.

VSCO girls have made reusable straws and water bottles cool, and everyone in school has to have them. We’ve all jumped on some product bandwagon to keep up with the cool kids—admit it. I still have a pile of Silly Bandz from middle school.

Making these products the cool things to have is a great step. I love that everyone wants them, but VSCO girls have some flaws that are countering their sustainable efforts. I’d like to bring up some suggestions to build on what they have started.

First, reusable straws are something VSCO girls are doing right. Using them instead of disposable straws prevents small, unrecyclable plastics from entering our ecosystems. The next step is to reduce the number of single-use plastic cups you use and avoid Styrofoam at all costs. Yes, you can recycle plastic cups, but limiting your use of them reduces demand and production. Styrofoam is often not recyclable, so I prefer to keep away from it completely.

Second, Hydro Flasks are another great way to reduce your plastic use. Refillable water bottles were one of the first environmentally-friendly products to become widely used, and I love seeing so many people embracing it. When I see a VSCO girl with more than two or three Hydro Flasks, I start to cringe a little.

A 32-ounce Hydro Flask is around $40. I recognize that Hydro Flask is a company trying to do good and put their profits toward nonprofits helping parks, but you are better off only buying one Hydro Flask and putting the money you save by not buying three more directly toward nonprofits.

Lastly, a big part of helping the environment, is not overconsuming. This goes for scrunchies too, unfortunately. I know how fun they are. I have a handful myself. But to help the environment, we need to reduce how much we consume.

I’m not saying a few scrunchies are single-handedly killing turtles. It’s having too many scrunchies and supporting unsustainable and unethical production facilities that has a negative impact. This is the case for any product, but fashion producers are some of the worst.

Only buying what you need and trying to purchase from companies that operate sustainably and ethically can help. Brands like Marine Layer, Everlane, Krochet Kids and Nisolo are great places to start, but there are quite a few others out there.

The VSCO girl trend has made sustainability mainstream, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. While VSCO girls saving the turtles has become a bit of a joke, the whole planet could benefit from these little changes that are easy to implement in your daily life. If it takes some high schoolers with an obsession with scrunchies to encourage people to take action, then so be it.

by Hannah Sivertson

Hannah is a senior communication student, barista, and aspiring writer. She loves covering music, film, fashion, environmental causes, and whatever is happening in her life and society right now.