22.11.17

Sustainable Fashion – Why You Need To Stop Your Shopping Addiction

Kate Hall

Shopping is addictive.

Don’t sit there and tell me you’ve never experienced the strong impulsive feeling crawl up your spine, tap you on the back and say “let’s go shopping girlfriend! Grab your handbag!”

Is it the bright shiny colours, or the good-looking mannequins beckoning you in?

Maybe it’s the plush, cosy changing rooms, or the red-lipped checkout girls who say you look ‘darling’ every time you stroll out of them?

Image vie Adobe Stock

sustainable fashion

Shopping in western society has changed from a necessity to a hobby, and for some, it’s a strangling addiction. Whether your addiction is minimal or all-consuming, it’s not healthy for your mind, bank account, the makers, and the planet. It needs to stop now. Here’s why.

1. Mind

One thing I’ve learned in the last few years after listening to podcasts, TED talks, and reading educational books, is the more stuff you have in your life, the more stressed you become.

Think about it.

Each item you own has a certain amount of maintenance which must be kept up or else it will become redundant and join the mountain of shit in your cupboard.

Your t-shirt gets a hole and needs a repair, your watch has gone out of time and requires a new battery, your ornament must be dusted at least three times a week otherwise it looks terrible, and the pair of leather sandals you bought last week is too tight. This involves a trip to the seamstress, watch doctor, cobbler, and dusting daily.

I don’t know about you, but I feel stressed just looking at this list of things to do.

Why bother stressing about STUFF when you can enjoy LIFE? If you allow fewer THINGS to come into your home, you have more TIME to spend doing what you love.

2. Bank account

This one is pretty obvious. If you are addicted to shopping, your bank account will take a bashing. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say to me “I can’t afford to shop ethically” as they proceed to shop weekly at the mall. Shopping ethically may not be what we are talking about here, but to me, having an ‘ethical’ or ‘sustainable’ take on shopping also means doing it less, and doing it well.

Let’s do the maths.

If you spend $50 each weekend on four items, this leads to a budget of approximately $200 each month, plus a closet full of items you probably won’t have time to wear more than twice a year, unless you are Katy Perry and have mastered the art of quick outfit changes. With $150 or less, you can thoughtfully choose and buy 1-2 good quality items each month which are high quality, used regularly, and that you feel amazing in.

3. The Makers

If you’re paying $10 for a shirt, how much do you think the person who made the shirt is getting paid? Consider that $10 covers the fabric, making, shipping, and not to mention the margins added all over the place to make it worth it for the middle men.

Does this add up to you?

The demand we put on factories to produce items faster and faster is the cause of devastation and hurt in countries who don’t have a choice but to keep on working. The more you shop at places who disregard the story of the maker, the worse the problem gets.

4. Planet

Okay, so you know that mountain of shit in your cupboard I mentioned earlier? Well, what do you think will happen to that mountain of shit when you decide you need your cupboard back? The purse you bought because you LOVED sequins for a week, the foot spa you grabbed on a 50% off sale and not touched, and the pair of $5 sunglasses you’ve never taken out the packet, will end up in three different places.

Someone else’s daily wardrobe (yay!), another hoarder’s cupboard of shit, but most likely: the landfill.

That’s right, you may think all your unwanted goodies end up in the hands of the thrifty, but this isn’t always the case. Elizabeth Clyne calls this phenomenon the ‘clothing deficit myth’ in her book ‘Overdressed: the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion.’

Truthfully, only around 20% of donated goods are sold at second-hand stores, leaving the rest to be sent to landfill; the planet’s worst enemy. You can argue all day that the item you bought existed anyway, so your shopping addiction doesn’t make a difference. But you are the consumer, you are creating the demand, and your purchasing decisions have a more significant impact on the planet than you think.

Shopping is addictive, and any type of addiction represents an unhealthy dependency that should be stopped. I’ve been there.

I know how good it feels to walk through the mall with bags and bags of beautiful things! But your mind, bank account, the makers and the planet are calling out to urge it to end. Turn your addiction into a passion and love. Reduce stress, prioritise your hard-earnt dollars, think of the makers, and take ownership of the planet you live in.

“How?” I hear you ask? Stay tuned for practical tips on how to solve your shopping addiction.

Kate Hall

I live and breathe sustainable living and ethical fashion. This alternative way of consuming and existing dominates my every waking moment- and sometimes more. Ethical fashion and living are no longer my hobbies, it has become my mission... to change the future of fast fashion and the way we consume. My husband and I strive to live a zero-waste lifestyle, live at thrift stores, and always look to 'up-cycle' rather than throw out. Eco-living is not a choice for me, it's in my blood, and I am trying with all my power for it to be the new 'norm'.