With e-commerce on the rise, and accounting for 16% of sales in the second quarter of 2020, shopping has never been easier and more accessible. However, with the ease of online shopping and social media platforms promoting $500 brand hauls, it’s only become more tempting to compulsively shop without realising its repercussions. Impulse shopping is not a new phenomenon for sure, but when you don’t have to worry about overwhelming crowds, queues for the fitting room or the confinement of shop hours, it’s considered the newest hobby you can do from your couch.
Nowadays, there also seems to be a sale going on every other day—the Great Singapore Sale, 6.6 Sale, 11.11 Sale, Black Friday, Cyber Monday—they’re used as a tempting marketing tactic to lure us into the next great deal. And they work! Americans have reported a year-on-year 51% increase in monthly spending.
Online impulse shopping not only has a great impact on our wallets but also on our environment. With same-day delivery, there are more delivery vans running half-empty on the roads, more cargo and air shipments flying around, and so much plastic packaging that won’t get recycled. Plus, some brand’s that offer free returns don’t put clothes back into their shops or warehouses – they go straight for the landfill. Besides, impulse shopping also leads to the age-old dilemma of having a closet bursting with clothes but nothing to wear.
It would be better to be more mindful of our purchases, for ourselves and the planet. We can do so through self-reflection, understanding our needs and lifestyle. Try asking yourself these questions before you hit that ‘checkout’ button, to start your conscious consumer journey!
1. Do I really need this?
Identify if you really need or want the item. Is it going to be something you will use regularly, or will it just become an impulse purchase that sits at the bottom of the drawer? There’s nothing wrong with getting something just because you want it, you should definitely treat yourself. Just be aware of it pre-purchase!
2. What do you gain from buying this?
This point goes hand in hand with the first. Dig deep into your inner Marie Kondo. How much happiness will this item bring you, and how long will it last? Are you buying it only because someone else has it? While you certainly don’t have to justify every single purchase you make, asking these questions would still be helpful in gauging the real value it will bring into your life.
3. Will I get at least 30 uses out of it?
Envision yourself using it 30 times, in different situations. To do so, you have to take into consideration multiple things, such as whether you can pair the item with what you already have, and whether the quality can withstand 30 wears and washes.
4. Do I already own something similar?
If you’re purchasing something you’ll love and wear a lot, go for it. But PSA: you might not need the same thing in 4 colours. It may also be a good idea to take a step back from shopping, and evaluate the items that you really own. Maybe in the midst of a wardrobe detox, or while ‘shopping’ your own wardrobe, you might discover items you forgot you even had!
5. Can I hold off on buying it for a month? A year?
If it’s an urgent purchase, sure. But if you can live without it for a few weeks, maybe buy it when you’re certain. A good gauge is to sleep on it for 30 days, in order to determine if it would be an impulse purchase, or if you genuinely want it. You can also use the wait to research more about what you want to buy, read some reviews, and see if there are better, or more ethical alternatives.
6. Will I still need it in a month? A year?
Is it an impulse buy that you might use only a few times? Or an investment piece you’ll treasure for much longer? If you’re buying something you know you will only need once, or very rarely, it might be wiser to look into borrowing or renting it.
7. Would I still buy this at full price?
Basically, are you just buying an item because it’s on sale? You might think you’re saving a lot by buying it at a discounted price. But, if you never needed it in the first place, you might just be handing over your hard-earned money for no reason.
8. Can I get it secondhand?
When it comes to secondhand shopping, more and more options are popping up, especially within Singapore. You can thrift, swap, and rent. You’re bound to find what you’re looking for secondhand while not contributing to the mass production of new things, and it’s often cheaper. Win win!
9. Is there a more ethical version of this available?
Instead of impulsively buying 10 fast fashion items, could you consider supporting an independent, ethical brand, and getting some quality investment pieces? Sure, it may cost a little more (upfront, that is), but it would be better for the environment, and the workers. You should also check if you can support local, and get similar items from local businesses.
10. Is it easy to care for?
Does it need dry cleaning? Will it fit into your lifestyle? If you’re not okay with something that requires high maintenance, perhaps you should give it a pass. It may seem cheaper to purchase it now, but it’ll cost even more to upkeep in the long run.
11. After I stop loving it, where will it end up?
Given the amount of waste in our oceans and landfills, consider what will happen to your purchase when it’s not so new and shiny. Can you donate, swap, or upcycle it? Does the company have a takeback program or a circular end-of-life plan? If yes, buy guilt-free and know that it won’t end up trashed or lost in some drawer.