To buy or not to buy: that is the question.
In the last few years, there has been a big global push for sustainability in the fashion industry. Thanks to numerous TV documentaries and the rise of international initiatives, individuals are becoming increasingly aware of their consumption habits and their detrimental effect.
For instance, did you know that consumers in the UK alone have unworn clothes in their wardrobe that are worth approximately £35.5 billion? (Yes, we said BILLION!) Likewise, the fashion industry is the second biggest polluter in the world behind the oil industry.
The truth is, fast fashion and the practise of buying something, wearing it once and then throwing it away, is extremely damaging for the environment. It’s important to re-evaluate how we shop and support brands that take a slower approach so that we can reduce the negative impact that fast fashion is having on the planet — and its people.
The good news is, if you want to contribute to change and join the slow fashion revolution, you can. All you have to do is ask yourself these 10 questions the next time you’re shopping for your next piece of clothing, shoe, handbag or accessory.
1. Do I Really Want It?
Firstly, are you sure that you want the item in question? Or are you shopping just because you’re chasing the love of the new?
Often, our brains become overwhelmed with the amount of things that retailers are trying to sell us on a daily basis. Every time we check our emails, scroll down our social media feeds or walk around our local town, we’re constantly being bombarded with messages that we NEED that new top or our lives won’t be the same if we don’t buy that new handbag.
Tune out the nagging voices that are trying to tell you otherwise and ask yourself if you even want the item? Or will you just forget about it as soon as you buy it (like a lot of us have been guilty of doing in the past – oops)?
2. Do I Need It?
For that matter, do you even need the item?
Analyse if it’s a necessity or whether it can wait a few months (or maybe forever).
3. Do I Already Own Something Similar?
We don’t know about you, but there have been times in the past where we’ve fallen in love with a piece of clothing on the spot and bought it, only to get home and realise we have the EXACT SAME THING already hanging in my wardrobe. #ConsumerProblems.
Learn from our mistakes and make sure you check, double-check and triple-check that you can’t make do with what you’ve got before you buy something new.
Trust us, you won’t regret it.
4. Can I Afford It?
One of the top questions to ask yourself when you’re pondering over to buy or not to buy is can you even afford it right now?
Have you shopped around? Are there better deals elsewhere or a big sale coming up that you can wait for?
Don’t be like us circa 2009 when we chose clothes over our weekly food shops. It’s not big and it certainly isn’t clever.
5. Is It Worth It?
Speaking of affordability, is the item going to be worth the amount you’ll pay for it?
How often will you wear it, for example? Needless to say, if it’s just for one event and that’s it, you might want to consider utilising something that’s already in your wardrobe.
6. Can I Borrow It?
If you don’t want to settle for an existing piece that you own (hey, we all grow tired of what’s in our wardrobe sometimes), ask yourself if it’s possible to BORROW a similar version of the item you’re lusting after.
Whether it’s from a friend or family member, it will save you a few quid AND help the environment in the process. That’s what we call a win-win situation.
7. Can I Buy Something Similar from a Charity Shop?
To buy or not to buy: well, how about still buying something similar but finding alternative, more sustainable sources to purchase from? Like, a charity or vintage shop, for instance.
You’d be amazed at the amount of choice on offer at second-hand stores.
Plus, you can find some really good, high-quality pieces at bargain prices!
8. Can I Find Something Similar on eBay or Depop?
Speaking of second-hand bargains, have you checked eBay or Depop to see if you can find something similar for less? By doing this, you’re encouraging less unnecessary waste.
You could even sell your old clothes on eBay if you fancy making an extra couple of hundred pounds every month. Kerching.
9. Does a Friend or Family Member Have Something Similar That They Don’t Want?
To buy or not to buy when your friend or family member might have something similar that they were about to discard? We’re thinking: don’t buy it.
After all, their version of the item might be even better than the one you’re tempted to purchase brand new.
10. Is This an Impulse Decision?
Finally, sometimes we don’t want to buy a new item at all. We just see it when we’re not expecting to and we’re like: ooh, maybe that would look good on my Instagram or I could wear that for Donna’s birthday party on Friday.
Then we end up buying it, only to look back on our decision a day or two later and think: well, that was a waste of money. I don’t really care about that item at all. I was just so “in the moment.”
Our suggestion? Maybe wait a little while when you see something you might want and see if you still want it a week or two later. The chances are that you won’t – and you’ll be thankful that you never bought it in the first place.
Changing Your Consumption Habits Going Forwards
On the cusp of a new year, and a new decade (!), the sustainable fashion movement has never felt more significant.
Even though it can be difficult to change your buying habits when it feels like they’re instilled in your very being, it IS possible as long as you keep trying.
By choosing to consume and own less, you’ll reduce waste, help the planet and everybody in it. And what’s more important than that going forwards?
Are you often in a war with yourself in terms of whether to buy or not to buy? Will these 10 questions help you in the future?
Katie Davies is the Yorkshire-based freelance writer who founded Trendy Tourist. Since 2017, she has written for over 100 companies on a range of subjects, from fashion to marketing. When she’s not producing content, you can find her shopping, exploring a new place or sitting somewhere having a cup of builder’s tea.