The first step towards a more sustainable closet: detoxing your shopping habits

Having a sustainable closet is not only about the actual clothes and the materials they are made with, it’s equally about the spending habits and behavior surrounding the purchasing of the products. Continuing with the spending habits and buying new clothing each and every week, but doing so ethically, is like running to lose weight while still overeating junk food, slightly better, but won’t make a big of a difference.

So what can you do when you have no clue about what to do to minimize the impact of you shopping or closet habits?

Stop going to stores

Removing yourself from any situation where shopping is on the table is the easiest way of stopping the spending habit. Just like an alcoholic doesn’t go to a bar on his first week sober, the shopaholic shouldn’t go to a store. Avoid all places where you can shop, this means both physical and online stores. So try avoiding the mall, shopping runs with friends and casually surfing net-a-porter or Asos. In addition, unsubscribe from newsletters from brands and online stores that drive you to buy more.

Open book on a table
Ready to switch shopping for another hobby? Maybe learn a language?

Find a hobby to fill your life with

A lot of people see shopping as a hobby or a fun activity to do with friends and family (or alone). No matter if you see shopping as a social activity or not, if you want a sustainable shopping habit you need to stop seeing it as a hobby. Find something more rewarding and worthwhile to do with your free time. Learn a new skill or language, get creative and paint, sing or take a pottery class, start a sport or just spend more quality time with your loved ones. The lack of shopping will not be as noticeable when you have other activities to fill your schedule with.

Give yourself something to look forward to

If you have a hard time motivating yourself, try giving yourself a reward you can look forward to. Maybe you have been wanting to go on a trip or to buy a really nice, expensive bag. Use that as a way of motivating yourself. Set a goal that after 3 months or 6 months you can buy/do that which you would like, if you manage to avoid shopping mindlessly. By staying away from your unhealthy shopping habit, you will also be able to save some money that can go towards that reward.

Avoid impulse shopping

If you find something you feel like you really need (or even really really want), wait for a few weeks or a few days depending on the price and item. Most of the time it is just a want that passes quite fast. Always let the decision rest for a while to make sure it’s just not a passing feeling or you are shopping to feel better or because you are bored.

Try a shopping ban

Quitting cold turkey is one of the most effective ways of ending addiction. Same goes with shopping. If you feel you have a real problem with shopping, you probably have to give it up completely for a while until you can handle it again. Try a shopping ban for 3 months, 6 months or even a year. If that is too much 1 month is better than nothing, but it is about challenging yourself, a shopping ban is not easy for someone who likes shopping. Just make sure you have your rules set out before, what is allowed and what is not.

Don’t do it all at once

Don’t get rid of all you stuff to replace it with sustainable or ethical alternatives. Buying new is never sustainable and this is not a haul for your YouTube, this is a life change, let time do the work. When your white t-shirt is no longer white enough for you to comfortably wear it, repurpose or recycle and then replace with one in organic cotton or Tencel, if you jeans tear, try to see if there is any way you (or anyone else) can fix them and if not, go for a new pair of sustainable or second hand denims. So take it easy and use that which is already in your possession and make the most of it. Realize that you are enough and you don’t need to follow the latest trends to enjoy life and to be liked.

Quitting something that is so addictive and ingrained in our culture is not easy. If you follow the tips it will be slightly easier though. You might actually realize after a while that you do not miss it that much or at least that you are okay without it. Life really is about more than the material stuff, maybe you will notice.

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