Sustainable Fashion: How To Stop Your Shopping Addiction

Kate Hall

Sustainable fashion isn’t simply about WHAT you buy. It is HOW you buy.

The rate at which we buy clothes is part of the global fast fashion issue, so swapping out your purchases for sustainably made purchases isn’t enough.

Sustainable fashion is a change of wardrobe mindset, and breaking your shopping addiction is the first step to building your sustainable wardrobe.

We’ve covered the ‘why’ but what about the ‘how’? No addiction is a good addiction, so we’ve come up with some practical tips on how to stop your shopping addiction.

First and foremost, it’s important to know why we shop and how it becomes addictive.

We are told by the media what we ‘need’, and what we must have to be happy. When we buy something, we instantly attain the gratifying reward of contentment and pride. We are told it feels great to shop. And so, it often does! Having more things shows wealth, and being plentiful in supplies and riches means you are not only surviving, but thriving.

It’s not just the media putting these unconscious desires and thoughts into our consumerist minds.

Theory has it, that if we see something that is in seemingly scarce supply, we act like our ancestors once did… and stock up on it! If something is 50% off, we feel as though we must buy it because otherwise it will be gone forever. Even though we don’t ‘need’ a sequined pink skirt to keep ourselves alive, the ancient instinct to squirrel rare items away still haunts us.

On top of these feelings, we use shopping to heal our sadness and stress. Shopping restores control. The shopper can picture their future with the new item in it. This gives back their power, when the rest of their life is unknown due to a baby on the way, stressed marriages, or scary university exams looming. There’s a reason we call it ‘retail therapy’!

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The first step to quitting your shopping addiction, begins by asking yourself these questions:

*It may help to keep a shopping diary for one month which includes the things you buy and when. This will give you insight into how serious your addiction is, show you the amount of money you spend (every little bit adds up!), and help you answer these questions.


Is it to feel happier? To look good in front of your friends or to feel beautiful in new clothes? Do you shop to take control of your life, or do you shop to fill your time?


Do you shop when you’re stressed, sad, or bored? Do you shop when you are angry or feel embarrassed at yourself when you look in the mirror? Do you end up in the shopping mall when you feel lonely, anxious, or depressed?


Do you shop in short bursts regularly throughout the week? Or, do occasionally go out for a full weekend blowout? Do you shop with a budget in mind, or have several credit cards at the ready?


When you’re in the store, do you feel relaxed and peaceful? Do you feel energised and motivated?

"Stopping your shopping addiction is the first step to a sustainable wardrobe."

Using your answers, find alternatives to shopping that fill your void.

Perhaps you shop when you’re stressed, and feel energised and motivated when you enter a store… when you are next stressed, pop out for a run or hit the gym! If you’re bored when you shop, why not start shopping second-hand and turning your shopping into a hobby. Write down things that you need, and scrounge the second-hand stores to fill your time.

Shopping can be replaced with all types of activities once the underlying cause has been found. Volunteering at rest homes, reading books, getting outdoors, or spending time with friends and family are beneficial activities that can replace shopping and have a positive effect on your life.

Sustainable fashion involves slower consumerism than the western world norm. Stopping your shopping addiction is the first step to a sustainable wardrobe.

Making purchases of intention, purpose, and need are important to building a wardrobe that respects you, the planet, and its people.

Photo by Gyorgy Bakos on Unsplash

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'.