Ever since lockdown happened, I noticed – or rather, my Mam and Dad noticed – that there was someone knocking on the door with a package almost every, sometimes twice a day. Whether it was a pair of blue light glasses – essential for working from a laptop, of course – or a new jumper – yeah, we can’t really go anywhere, but it was on sale, so I had to, right? – I began to realise that my online shopping had begun to spin slightly out of control.
The impact on the planet and your bank account
It wasn’t until I deep-cleaned my room this week and ended up hauling out two overflowing black bin bags of long-forgotten clothes that I knew I might have a problem. But I don’t think it’s a problem unique to myself; every day I see courier vans driving up and down my road, or friends posting their new purchases on social media. We all know the detrimental effects of fast fashion and consumerism, but with the boredom of lockdown and the constant pressure from social media to ‘keep up’, it’s difficult not to press that ‘add to cart’ button. Not only is this bad for the planet –it’s bad for your bank account.
I think if most people went back and calculated how much they’ve spent on online shopping and compared it to how much they actually used the items they purchased, there’d be a pretty obvious problem. But with attractive, eye-catching ad campaigns and luxuries like next-day delivery, we’ve all become so used to the instant gratification that it’s just a part of our every day. Not only that, but buying can actually be a way people deal with stress and try to find some joy.
Reducing our online shopping
Here are some signs that you might want to consider cutting back on your online shopping:
1. Is it an instant decision?
When you see someone showing off a product that catches your eye, you just have to have it for yourself. There’s no consideration, you don’t wait a few days to think about it – you just press that ‘add to cart’ button straight away.
2. You can’t remember the last time you didn’t have a package on the way
We all know how great it is to have something to look forward to. Knowing that there’s a package on the way bringing you something shiny is always a nice boost. But you can no longer remember a time when this wasn’t the case.
3. People have commented on it
Your family or friends have mentioned to you once or twice that your spending habits are getting out of control.
4. You think about online shopping all the time
As soon as one parcel gets delivered, your fingers are already itching to open that shopping app on your phone again.
5. You feel guilty after online shopping
Not only did you spend money that you may or may not be able to afford, you’ve bought items that you know you don’t really need, and within a few weeks you know your purchase will just be sitting, forgotten, under your bed or at the back of the wardrobe.
If you recognise any of these signs in yourself – I definitely have – I would urge you to be more mindful when shopping. Coming up to Christmas, the advertising, discounts and ‘must have’ products are only going to be more in our faces.
Support local businesses
Instead of purchasing from fast-fashion companies when ordering presents, consider buying local. There are plenty of small Irish businesses who have moved their business online. Not only do they have much less of an environmental impact, but you’ll be supporting your community. Since I’ve been paying more attention to my own habits, I’ve definitely noticed patterns and begun to break them. So, before you impulsively press the ‘add to cart’ button, consider whether you’re really making a good decision, or whether you’re just trying to scratch an itch that will never really go away.