~ Four Healthy Alternatives to Online Shopping ~
Online shopping has a lot in common with child bearing*.
You carry something around in your wish list for months, that feeling of wanting growing bigger and heavier each day. You fantasise about your future with this garment – how it’s going to feel, how it will potentially show off your best assets and hide your worst, what other items in your wardrobe it’s going to get along with, and how it’s generally going to improve your life, one wear at a time.
Pay day comes around and your bank account is now ‘full-term’ so next comes the painful part: pushing out all your hard-earned money. Your pulse quickens as you pull out your credit card and carefully key in the gold numbers with trepidation, the correct digits in their correct order being integral to your happiness. You see your bank account drain away and you are filled with anxiety and dread.
Not long after, your parcel is successfully delivered to your work or home. You hold that delicate, precious, package all swaddled in tissue paper, gently in your arms and any post-purchase remorse is suddenly washed away in a tidal wave of endorphins.
The fact that I compared the joy of childbirth to online shopping is probably pretty telling that I most likely have an internet shopping addiction.
I may be the only one making weird pregnancy analogies but, somehow, I don’t think I’m alone when it comes to this online addiction: the National Australia Bank estimated that the online retail market, in Australia, was worth $22.74 bn in the 2016-2017 tax year. (See the the ten signs which indicate you might be addicted to online shopping here.)
I’ve made many sacrifices on my quest for the sartorial holy grail: forgone social outings, delicious meals, and even taxis when it was raining. Like Carrie said on SATC, when she was totally broke she would occasionally buy Vogue instead of dinner as she thought it fed her more.
But this month, I’m forgoing new clothes instead. Mostly because I’m about to buy an around-the-world ticket (departing December!) but also because I want to see if I can actually do it.
Which got me thinking: was there a way I could still obtain my online shopping ‘hit’ without injecting any brand-new clothes or accessories into my wardrobe? I came up with four alternatives to online shopping that are not only good for your wallet – they’re also good for the environment and your mental health.
There is always more to one’s closet than first meets the eye. A mini-dress hanging on your clothes rack may not be just a dress – what if you tucked it into a pair of trousers and called it a top? Or that skirt you never wear, what if you could transform it into a dress? If you are creative with your wardrobe, and wear what you currently own in ways not traditionally intended, it can feel like you are almost doubling your wardrobe real-estate.
I even delved into my underwear drawer, excavated an ancient half-slip and fashioned it into a boob-tube (just in time for the early 2000s revival!).
Or how about a scarf as a bustier?
Not ready to break traditions? Layering is a great way to diversify your clothes when worn in their intended way. Even just adding a jumper over a dress can break it up and make it look like an entirely new outfit.
BEG, BORROW (BUT NEVER STEAL)
A friend in need is a friend indeed. Friends are a another wardrobe waiting to happen, one which may also encourage you to experiment with different styles you might not otherwise try.
Surrounding myself by rather tall friends, I don’t often get to borrow something that fits me, but there are many ways you can still make it work (see my post here on altering your clothes without going to the tailor).
If you are not the same size as your friend, borrow their accessories instead!
TO MARKET, TO MARKET
Sometimes you need pluck yourself out from your dark, dank internet lair, and experience the real world. Step out in the sunshine and get some fresh air into those lungs!
Markets are a hive of activity; there are always new sights, sounds and aromas to fill your sensory cavities to the brim.
You also get to avoid fluorescent lighting, terrible music blaring too loudly from shop speakers, over pushy sales people and over-priced goods.
If you do find something you like, you’ll feel far more victorious than clicking an item into your virtual shopping cart ever will. And it’s always a cooler story to tell someone the next time they compliment on your handbag.
You’re so broke you can’t even afford that $20 vintage dress? Enjoy the atmosphere and people-watching, which you get for free. Markets attract people from all walks of life.
Not convinced? Then just think about the good you’re doing for the environment. Not only are you sourcing second hand goods, you are also avoiding additional greenhouse emissions through your online purchases.
Sendle, an Australian carbon-neutral delivery service worked out that:
“If 37 million packages (the number of packages sent person-to-person every year in Australia)… travelled from Melbourne to Brisbane (just over 1700km by road), that’s about 1.4kg of carbon emitted per package or 51.8 million tonnes of carbon pumped into the air. If you consider the average weight of an elephant it 7 tonnes… You’d need at least 17 times the world elephant population stacked up on top of each other to equal that weight of carbon released!” (Quote sourced from 1 Million Women website.)
Use your highly refined internet browsing skills and uncover what great local markets are near you. My favourite in Melbourne is the Sunday Camberwell Markets.
REFINE YOUR WISH LISTS
Save up for something you really want rather than constantly buying smaller things just for the thrill of something new.
If you still want something when your next pay rolls around, and it’s available, then go for it. Giving yourself proper time to consider if you want the item, and if it’s financially viable, is a great way to avoid buyers remorse.
Here’s what a small sample of mine looks like right now:
1) Arnsdorf Blanca blouse; 2) Converse Chuck Taylor flatform sneakers; 3) Zara checked blazer; 4) Marshmallow The Fragrant Bodysuit; 5) Retrosuperfuture Iggy sunglasses; 6) Alison Lou heart stud; 7) Anna + Nina Rope bangle; 8) Miu Miu Picnic woven bag; 9) Ganni Mercer beanie; 10) Meadowlark gold plated earrings; 11) Zimmerman Golden Surfer Bodice; 12) Marc Jacobs The Hip Shot Convertible Handbag; 13) Acne Velocite shearling jacket; 14) Realisation Par The Naomi Wild Things skirt; 15) Gucci Caspar pumps; 16) Topshop polkadot playsuit; 17) Altaia Don’t Cry for Me perfume
It’s important to remember that style isn’t about always having the latest trends, it’s about being able to work with what you have. Be inventive, be creative, be not broke!
Now…. to take my own advice.
*I have never bore children so am only making a bold comparison based on movies, books and what my mother and sisters have told me. I’m also very aware that having children is a lot more meaningful and fulfilling than online shopping 😉