how to create healthy buying habits

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The importance of reducing our collective consumption is something that more and more people have come to realize in recent years, with the threat of the looming climate crisis. Buying less clothes is a key part of this because Studies show that the UK produces 206,456 tonnes of textile waste each year.

Many people not only try to buy less, but also buy better. Buying second-hand clothes or renting clothes is one of the most effective ways to reduce your fashion climate footprint. It is also important to invest in high quality clothes that you really like, as you will be less likely to send them to the landfill after a short period of time.

But changing your shopping habits is difficult, especially if the highlight of your weekend as a teenager was a Saturday afternoon visit to Topshop. Or maybe you ended up relying on next day delivery to make sure you have a new outfit to wear every weekend. Either way, it can be difficult to change your shopping habits, even if you are aware of the negative effects they have on the planet and on your bank balance.

“It is entirely possible to retrain to become a more conscious consumer,” says Emma Slade Edmondson, a consultant who helps companies improve their social and environmental impact. “You can find the joy of not consuming and the more you practice it, the more rewarding it is,” she explains.

Emma has dramatically changed her personal shopping habits and feels that overcoming her urge to shop for fashion fast has been of great benefit to her.

Changing the way you shop can change your mindset about life, and vice versa, according to Molly Benjamin, founder of the Ladies Finance Club. “Spending is often the side effect of something else – we can be bored or miserable,” says Molly. This is part of the reason why changing your shopping habits has to be a long-term commitment.

Shakaila Forbes-Bell, a fashion psychologist, has conducted research on how buying new clothes affects our brains and our self-esteem and she confirms that “clothes have a significant impact on our moods, desires and identities and they can change the way people perceive us “.

Shakaila explains that there are five key things that motivate people to shop.

Shakaila Forbes-Bell headshot
Shakaila Forbes-Bell is a fashion psychologist.

What motivates us to shop, according to Shakaila

A need to express ourselves

Clothing and fashion allow people to signal their identity and communicate with others. Consumers don’t just buy clothes – they buy lifestyles.

A need to belong

Humans are incredibly social creatures and when we dress according to fashion and what’s popular, we show that we belong to a group which is a way of bonding.

A natural response to persuasive stimuli

Stores and e-commerce are designed to connect with our peripheral persuasive route and this can be a key motivator when it comes to shopping.

Commitment to a belief

People present their beliefs through what they buy. For example, someone who is trying to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle can buy from a sustainable brand.

Emotional needs

Retail therapy can help people deal with their negative feelings, even if they are short lived. How long it lasts will depend on what you buy and how well what you bought matches your identity and beliefs.

Head of Molly Benjamin
Molly Benjamin is the founder of the Ladies Finance Club

With our brains motivated to shop in so many different ways, you can probably understand why reducing your consumption can be so difficult. So we asked Emma, ​​Shakaila and Molly to share their advice on how you can improve your buying habits sustainably, psychologically and financially.

How to improve your shopping habits

Practice mindful shopping

Shakaila recommends that you ask yourself a number of questions before you start shopping:

  • What do you want to buy?
  • What will you gain from it?
  • Are you buying something because you’re feeling down and want a pick-me-up?
  • What are the long term ramifications of your purchase?

According to Shakaila, you should never make an impulse buy because that doesn’t give the brain enough time to determine whether or not you really care about an item.

“Be introspective,” is Emma’s advice when it comes to mindful shopping. “Is your urge to shop a real need or is it a learned behavior? Emma explains that shopping regularly is something most of us grew up on, so taking your shopping experience into account is very important to help you change your relationship with buying new things.

Buy your wardrobe first and fix your clothes

Buying your own wardrobe before you buy something new is a great way to find out if a purchase is something that will really add value to your life and the things you wear.

It can also be a creative act in itself, according to Emma. Fashion is the desire to look a certain way and it’s about you – it’s not about novelty. Separate the idea of ​​novelty from enjoying the art of creativity, ”she advises, adding that the more time you spend with your own wardrobe, the better you’ll get to know your own style.

Molly also recommends that you learn some basic sewing skills so that you can repair your own clothes, as this can save you money in the long run and help you appreciate the clothes you own more.

Change the way you value your clothes

“Before you buy something, consider what it costs (including maintenance costs) and divide it by the number of times you think you will wear it,” is Shakaila’s advice for understanding the real thing. value of an item. This could mean that big ticket items will actually have better value if you wear them more.

However, if you are on a budget, second-hand shopping is a great option for buying new things because it has a much lower environmental impact than buying new clothes. “I have a purchasing hierarchy. First I’ll look to buy second-hand and if I can’t find it there I’ll look to rent before I consider buying something new, ”says Emma.

Second-hand shopping can be very rewarding, and Emma says she’s learned to “trade the joy of fast fashion for the joy of find.”

Take up space before buying anything

The best way to curb your impulse buying habit is to rule it out altogether by never allowing yourself to buy something as soon as you see it.

Molly advocates a 24 hour rule with online shopping. “Keep it in your cart for 24 hours – if you still think about it after that time, you can buy it,” she says, adding that waiting even longer can be more beneficial because the item can be put in. sale.

Shakaila recommends adding the things you love to a moodboard rather than buying them right away. “Take a photo of an item of clothing in a store or pin something you find online. It will give you ideas and inspiration and then you can come back to it later, ”she says.

Shakaila also suggests trying custom brands, where you may have to wait a few months between purchasing an item and receiving it. “It’s a great method because you know you’re not just looking for instant gratification,” she says.

Head of Emma Slade Edmondson
Emma Slade Edmonson is a consultant in sustainable and ethical fashion.

Set goals

In order to become a more conscious buyer, you need to know what you want from the things you buy and setting goals can be very helpful in this. You can start from a financial perspective by setting a monthly purchasing budget.

“A lot of people who overspend are people who don’t have goals,” says Molly. If you’re looking to start budgeting but don’t know where to start, she recommends the 50-30-20 method, where you spend 50% of your money on essentials like bills, rent, and rent. groceries, 30% in entertainment, dining and shopping and 20% goes to savings.

You can also set goals for yourself in terms of the types of items you would like to buy in the next month, year, or find in your lifetime. This can make it easier to buy used items and will also make you less likely to buy something just because it’s a trend or it’s marketed well.

Images: Getty, Shakaila Forbes-Bell, Molly Benjamin, Emma Slade Edmondson

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