Christmas is a time of coming together - it might be the only time of year you see friends and family. But it’s also seen as a time of giving, and a time of excess. We’ve all been guilty of going a little (or a lot) over the top at Christmas, of spending too much and buying more than we need.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t have to follow traditions, just because we always have. We can make our own traditions, our own rules. Things that suit us, our lifestyle, and our goals.
It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of Christmas, but now more than ever, many of us are conscious of our budgets and our environmental impact. We understand how hard it can be to break up with consumerism and fast fashion, but it’s not impossible, which is why we’ve put this guide together.
By the end of this guide, not only will you have practical tips to help you break up with fast fashion, you might also save some money.
What is fast fashion?
Fast fashion focuses on replicating trends on a large scale, so you might see a celebrity wearing a certain style and then go online and buy it from your chosen retailer for a fraction of the celebrity price. Usually, the clothes are low cost, which makes them seem disposable and not designed to last, which is what causes the cycle to repeat.
What is excessive consumerism?
While consumerism focuses on the idea that the more we buy, the better our life will be or the better we’ll feel, excessive consumerism may extend to buying items we don’t need. So, an example could be that you go to your favourite shop to buy a specific item (let’s say a pair of jeans), but when you get there, there’s a sale and you end up buying two or three things more that you don’t need.
Now, let’s say you needed a new pair of jeans. That’s fair enough. But imagine if you end up buying things you don’t need, and, when you get home, they don’t match anything else in your wardrobe and you instantly know you will not wear it, but you also won’t have time to return it. And maybe this happens twice a month, or every week? Buying things might give you a buzz.
What are our top tips?
- One: Think about your why:
Nothing can be more motivating than the ‘why’ behind your thinking. What is it that is driving you to make a change? Do you want to reduce your environmental impact? Save money? Quit fast fashion for good? Whatever your reasoning, it’s worth thinking about it. We all struggle for motivation sometimes, but if you can look back over a list of, say, 5 reasons to change, this will help you quit consumerism.
- Two: Making a list, checking it twice…
One way to stop buying more than you need is to create a comprehensive list of who you are planning to buy a gift for, or for your Christmas food shopping. Once you have your list, you can set a realistic budget. Checking in regularly will help you stay on track and curb that impulse buying that can derail a budget in seconds.
- Three: Take Stock and Re-evaluate:
Sometimes we forget just how much we have already. Whether we’ve squirrelled things away in the loft or in drawers, when things are out of sight, they really are out of mind. It’s useful to take stock of what we already have, so we don’t buy the same thing twice. It also gives us a chance to upcycle or sell items we have that we no longer love or like anymore.
- Four: Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe
This might not automatically make sense, but think about your most recent impulse purchases. When was the last time you received an email telling you about an amazing offer or deal that you just can’t live without? How many newsletters do you receive in a month? A week? A day? One way to avoid temptation and curb excessive consumerism is to unsubscribe from newsletters, so you can’t be tempted.
- Five: Switch from Fast Fashion to Sustainable Brands
At some point, you might need to replace an item you own. It’s up to you whether you want to buy new or secondhand, and there are options that can help you embrace sustainability. You could opt to visit a local charity shop or choose something via your favourite online marketplace (think Vinted, Etsy, eBay, Facebook marketplace, etc), or, if you want to buy new, research sustainable brands and clothing that will last. Buying only what you need can help you avoid fast fashion fads and excessive consumerism.
- Six: Try the Project 333 Challenge
Is fashion your weakness? Do you spend forever getting ready before going out? Do you always feel you have nothing to wear, even though your wardrobe is full? You might benefit from the Project 333 Challenge, which encourages people to dress with 33 items or fewer for 3 months. It really focuses your mind and encourages you to consider your outfit choices (think capsule wardrobe). You can also ease into the challenge, so if you’re not sure you want to decrease your wardrobe yet, you can put stuff away and get it out later.
- Seven: Focus on your goals
If we circle back to the first point ‘think about your why’, you may also want to track your why. For example, do you want to stop buying into consumerism to save money? If so, you can track your savings and make cute graphics (for example, using Canva) to show where you’re at with your goals and encourage yourself to keep going. You may have debt that you want to reduce – track it! You may want to make money by selling clothing you have that you don’t wear anymore – track it! You might want to start having ‘no spend days’ each month – track them! If you track your goals, you’re more likely to be successful, as you will see how far you’ve come.
There may be many happy side-effects of quitting excessive consumerism that you just weren’t expecting. For instance, if you’re ordering less online (and buying less in general) you’ll have less packaging (and therefore waste) to deal with, you’ll potentially have more disposable income, and you may find wanting less to reduce your stress.
Do you have any other top tips for overcoming excessive consumerism? We’d love to hear your suggestions!