Priah Ferguson is all about sustainable style.
The actress, who plays Erica Sinclair on the Netflix's smash hit Stranger Things, can often be found in a stylish outfit, whether she's walking a red carpet or posting a casual photo to the 'gram. Though Ferguson, 15, admits she's still finding her overall style vibe, she's having a lot of fun in the process. Like many fashion-lovers, however, Ferguson has spent time and money on fast fashion, but she's trying to change her ways.
"I partnered with thredUp and found out how fast fashion was bad for the planet," Ferguson tells PEOPLE of her new partnership with the thrifting brand. "Once I found out fast fashion was bad for the planet, that's when I wanted to take the initiative to make changes — because I like eating fresh foods and I like eating my veggies, and I like going to festivals and swimming. I can't do those things if we're harming the planet, and thredUp educated me on why thrifting is best for the planet."
As part of Ferguson's new collaboration with thredUP, the secondhand shopping site researched fast fashion as it applies to Gen Z shopping habits. The 2022 Resale Report found that one in three Gen Z shoppers surveyed admitted they feel "addicted" to fast fashion.
Fast fashion from retailers like Shein, H&M, or Forever 21 includes style pieces that are made to mimic what you see on the runway at a much lower price point. This trend has been criticized as being bad for the environment, because of how it's mass produced using "petrochemical products that come from many of the same oil and gas companies driving greenhouse gas emissions," according to Bloomberg. Fast fashion has also garnered attention for the unsafe and low-paid working conditions some textile employees find themselves in.
However, what makes fast fashion attractive for so many shoppers is the cheap price tag, as well as the inclusivity of the sizes. Shein, for example, carries up to a size 4X, which isn't something a lot of trendy retailers do.
Thrift shopping targets fast fashion by making your closet more sustainable for a reasonable price, which Ferguson is very into at the moment. She admits that leaving behind fast fashion "is a process" and knows that people can't just quit shopping at their favorite fast fashion spots overnight. The high school student was surprised, though, at how many exciting things she found once she started thrifting.
"[When thrift shopping], you might see luxury things or basic things — whatever matches your personality for a decent price," Ferguson tells PEOPLE. "And it's not harming the planet."
Ferguson may be early in her thrift shopping days, but she's already snagged a few pieces that have convinced her she made the right choice in leaving fast fashion behind. In particular, she found a pair of Golden Goose sneakers on thredUP that she'd already been eyeing.
"I just couldn't see myself paying $700 for some shoes at that moment," she says of the high-priced sneakers. "But once I saw those shoes on thredUP for a decent price, I was like, 'Oh yeah, I got to get those.'"
Though not fast fashion, designer items are another huge positive of thrift shopping — it's a way to get expensive pieces that are gently used for a little less than retail value. Shoppers may find this especially appealing if they're in the market for a designer piece and don't want to pay full price. Second-hand stores are a great place to find these items to add to your sustainable closet.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday.
Thrift shopping can be overwhelming, though, but Ferguson insists it's worth it for the treasure trove of finds that are waiting to be brought home.
"I've gotten a lot of great pieces, a lot of nice pieces," she says, adding that thrifting online is a little easier to navigate than physical stores. "It's definitely something you gradually get into and you should educate yourself along the way," she says.
Even if thrift shopping for clothes has been fruitless for someone in the past, she urges shoppers to at least go for the accessories as a way to start a more sustainable closet. "[thredUP has] a lot of cute belts on there that I really like," she says. "Oh, they have a lot of good hats, too, which are really, really cute!"
Ferguson puts all her style knowledge to good use when she gets dressed for school every day. The sophomore, who considers Rihanna and Zendaya to be her style icons, says that now that she's in her second year of high school, she's settled into her place in the hallways.
"I'm a sophomore now, so I'm confident in who I am and what I wear," she says of her style. "I like to wear dope shorts, like blanket shorts. Today I wore some cute blanket shorts that I got made with a simple black t-shirt and my Yeezy Foam Runners. Sometimes I'll wear some cute sweatpants with a cute basic shirt and my Birkenstocks."
"Chill but cute" is her go-to for school days but it could change any moment for this actress who is still settling into her sartorial ways. As she navigates her style, her goal is to keep the planet in mind and continue to educate herself on how fashion and the environment tie together.
"I'm just taking some space away from fast fashion and learning as I go," she says.
Learn more about thredUP's resale report on fast fashion here, and call 1-855-THREDUP to hear Ferguson's story on quitting fast fashion in her own words.