The Mentality of America
There are many economical and environmental reasons why we should end the shopping spree. American culture is built on consumption. A report by BBC proposed that if everyone on the planet consumed the way Americans do, we would need 4 Earths to sustain us. The average American throws away 81 pounds of clothing each year. This mentality of “If I don’t like it later, I’ll just throw it out” exists and has existed for a long time.
I’ll define a shopping spree as buying ten or more clothing items during one outing. As good as it feels, the problem with a shopping spree is that it makes it much easier for you to commit to items you aren’t positive about.
And this is where the waste comes in.
Speaking as an American, I have become used to consuming an incredible amount without much thought and it can be very difficult to change your way of thinking after a lifetime of being conditioned as a copious consumer.
Clothing is arguably the easiest and most satisfying thing that nourishes this urge to consume. When you go on a shopping spree, you have a certain mentality. Once in the mindset of buying, you may pick up something you never thought you needed before. Suddenly you become enamored by that thing. Then when you still aren’t sure whether you need it or even like it, you purchase it.
This mindset is similar to when you go grocery shopping on an empty stomach: you bring home things that look good in the moment but once you take it home you don’t eat it. Then your impulse pudding sits in the fridge until you throw it away.
The Help of Fast-Fashion
Fast-Fashion has transformed clothing into a dispensable consumer good, not a luxury item, and certainly nothing of value. The goal of big brands like H&M and Forever 21 is to get you to buy the biggest number of things in the least amount of time. When you purchase from a fast-fashion brand you don’t typically think of where the item will be a year from now – in your closet, at Goodwill, or in the garbage. This is because Fast- Fashion has made it easy to shop without feeling regret. The garments are mass produced and inexpensive, they don’t initiate a real emotional attachment. Most likely the styles you purchase will be replaced by the store in a couple weeks.
Zara for example receives new shipments every one-two weeks then every six weeks they replace their entire inventory. If the store you purchase from doesn’t value your clothes, then it becomes too easy for you not to value them either.
Consumers often feel like they are getting a great deal on individual pieces which fuels their desire to return. But on average, an American woman will spend at least $1,800 on clothes each year. Then “81 pounds” worth will be donated or thrown away. The low quality of the garments coupled with the rapidly shifting trends ensures consumers buy new clothes regularly without considering the real value of the item(s).
Curating Your Wardrobe
If you were to curate your wardrobe instead of absentmindedly purchasing a large number of cheap garments, that need of returning to buy more bargain items all but dissipates. The fashion industry has trained us to favor full closets over capsule wardrobes. But an overflowing closet can be a depressing thing. It can become incredibly discouraging when you realize how many trips to the donation center you make a year.
In general, women who have quit fast-fashion and have catered their wardrobes to their needs feel a sense of real accomplishment. They are protecting themselves, their wallet, and the environment by investing in only good pieces that last. Fast-Fashion create low quality items to convince you a fast turnaround rate in your wardrobe is a good and necessary thing.
Dispose of that mentality.
Commit to making more thoughtful consumer choices. It is important to focus on the quality of the item rather than its accessibility. The whole industry is built on this feeling of instant gratification but finding a special blouse after months of searching is a truly satisfying feeling.
Don’t invest in things you aren’t sure about and don’t settle if you can help it. You aren’t doing yourself any favors when you pick up something thinking you can just replace it later.
After a while these conscious choices will lead to a better style focused wardrobe that is catered to you instead of an overflowing closet of duplicate items that serve you no real purpose.
If you’re just starting out, the easiest thing to do is ask yourself, “How often will I wear this? What will I wear it with? And can I see myself wearing this in a year?”
In time, all of this will help you end the shopping spree.
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