A Simple Trick To Becoming A More Mindful Shopper

22.06.20

Do you ever find yourself thinking about all the unnecessary sh*t you’ve bought online simply because you saw it on Instagram? 


That silk pillowcase to “protect your hair” (FROM WHAT THOUGH?). The charcoal toothpaste that promised to make your teeth whiter. The vegetable spirzalizer for making “courgette-i” that you used exactly once. The 37 identical leopard print slip skirts. 

Did any of it improve our lives? Of course not! But we felt that undeniable pull. And the problem with the pull is that it’s at odds with everything we now know about how problematic the fashion industry is. In recent years, as we’ve become more socially-engaged consumers, we’ve become really good at demanding answers about where our clothes are made, by whom, in what conditions, and with what material, and yet often our knowledge of the ethical and environmental issues of the rag trade is at odds with the compulsive consumption landscape we have to navigate each day – both in real life and online. 

The single most effective tool I’ve found for reducing my Instagram-triggered spending is to dramatically limit the number of fashion brands I follow on Instagram. Going through that little directory of accounts and unfollowing all of them except for, say, a dozen.

I know what I’m proposing isn’t revolutionary. Simply unfollowing twenty or thirty accounts. But believe me when I say it has changed my spending. It’s given new life to the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Because, as exciting as it is to see the latest collections as soon as they drop, it’s also undeniably baiting us. You can have a perfectly acceptable, ticks-all-the-boxes wardrobe of clothes, and see something on your Instagram feed and suddenly feel like you’re “lacking”.

Brands like Zara and H&M, two of the largest retailers in the world, produce new merchandise every two weeks, knowing they won’t be able to sell it all, knowing they’ll mark it down in six-weeks time, knowing still (!) that a lot of those marked-down garments won’t leave the store and, ultimately, will end up in land-fill. Their Instagram grids are carefully curated to make you forget all of that and instead feel a sense of urgency towards a faux shearling coat, an oversized knit or a pair of jeans. Those accounts do not need your “follow”. They can afford to lose you. Save your follow for local brands, indie designers, and emerging creatives – the ones who will actually benefit from your engagement on social media and even more from your conscious decision to spend with them.

Instagram is smart. And now I’m trying to be smarter too.


Header image by Holly Burgess for The Twenties Club