No buy challenge
Last month I decided to start a ‘no buy’. As the name suggests, I put myself on a clothing, skincare and make up buying/shopping ban for a period of 3 months. The aim was to use what I already have and stop buying things I don't need. The exception to this was replacements. A self-imposed period of not shopping may seem trivial, however this was an extreme change for me as to say "I love shopping" is an understatement.
Over the Christmas period I started feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of clothes I had. I was also running out of space. I would find something online that I loved, get excited about it, think how I would style it with existing pieces from my wardrobe and buy it. Often this purchase would lead to another purchase and the vicious shopping cycle would continue. Want it, buy it, forget it. Last month it got to the stage where I ordered so many items I had to keep a list of what I’d ordered just to keep track of what was being delivered. It was ridiculous. A colleague jokingly called me a shopaholic and although I laughed it off, it struck a nerve. It got me thinking about why I constantly felt the urge to always buy new things, as it certainly wasn’t from a place of need.
Around this time, I discovered some YouTubers focusing on taking control of their shopping habits. This was my introduction to no buy and low buy. These women, like me, love fashion but were teaching themselves ways to jump off the consumer bandwagon.
I’m about 6 weeks in to my no buy and I have learnt so much already. I’ve listed some of these learnings below:
• Shopping is my crutch. I’m an emotional shopper. I shop when I’m happy, sad, bored and everything in between.
• I’m easily influenced. Subscription emails telling me that a sale is on or that there are further reductions fed my shopping habit. However temptation is everywhere and there are always new shiny things to fall in love with. Identifying triggers has been key to help me manage them. I’ve now unsubscribed from lots of mailing lists.
• No buy was helpful but unrealistic. Going cold turkey was too extreme and at times I had to fight the urge to shop. A low buy would have been a better option to help me make better purchases. I almost set myself up to fail with a no buy. It’s about finding a balance.
• 3 months was the arbitrary period I set, and it was too long. I should have started smaller and taken baby steps. 1 month would have been better. Apparently, it takes 21 days to create a habit that isn’t likely to be broken.
• Including skincare and make up in the no buy was unnecessary. My problem areas are clothing and shoes.
• I have too many clothes. Through not shopping I have spent time reacquainting myself with pieces in my wardrobe. I've discovered so many gems I’d forgotten about. Taking an inventory and periodic decluttering has also been helpful.
The aim of the no buy was to change my shopping habits and my relationship with shopping by focusing on what I have rather than what I don’t have. In this respect the no buy has been successful. I used shopping as a form of distraction and the emotional connection I have tied to my shopping behaviour was a revelation. It will take time to unpack and understand. The no buy has been tough at times as it forced me to think about what I’m avoiding by shopping.
So, what next? Going forward I’m implementing a low buy. I have created a list of questions to ask myself before I buy a new piece of clothing. I also have a wish list of clothing items I want and will work with other pieces in my wardrobe. Referring to this when I have the urge to buy something will help keep me on track. When I buy an item, I want to do so with thought and intention by taking a more considered approach. I’m also keen to learn more about sustainable fashion. It’s a hot topic, and rightly so. I’m going to educate myself about the fashion industry’s environmental impact, consumption and ethical brands. Then I’ll be able to make more informed decisions.
I’m determined to love and look after the clothes I already have and, probably most importantly, wear them. I read that one of the most sustainable things we can do as consumers is wear what we already have. If you’ve made it to the end of this blog, well done. I know it was a lot. It has taken me quite a bit of time to gather my thoughts and write this blog post. Hopefully what I’ve learned is helpful if you’re embarking on a no buy or low buy. Let me know if you have taken steps towards becoming a more conscious shopper.