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A Recovering Shopaholics Guide to Buying Less

Unless you came late to this party (and if you did, welcome!) you would’ve noticed that at TWOOBS we’re constantly talking about the importance of buying less in the fight towards our sustainable future.

And recently it dawned on us that something we haven’t really spoken about is how freaking hard it actually is to be buying less, and that we actually struggle with this ourselves. Every. Damn. Day.

You see, to put it lightly, we really like buying stuff. No, that’s too light. We really love buying stuff. Wait, that’s not quite it either. We’re addicted to buying stuff. Yep, nailed it.

Don’t get us wrong, we’ve definitely moved through that stage of our addiction where we’re totally out of control and hiding our online purchases from the people we live with (if you know, you know), but the urges are still very much there, and we have to fight them almost every day*. 

*Almost every day might sound dramatic, but you try working in fashion and exposing yourself to beautiful things daily without making a purchase. That sh** is hard.

Now, let’s take you back to our childhoods so you can get the full picture.

We were the type of kids who would BEG our mother to take us to Target so we could try on the full Mary-Kate and Ashley collection in the change rooms, because that was our idea of a raging Saturday. We still remember what that collection looked like, where it was situated in the store, how it smelled. We remember the full body thrill we experienced when our mum (probably after we pleaded in the food court for an hour) said we were allowed to buy one of the pieces… and let’s not even talk about the pitch of scream that would burst out of our mouths if she let us throw in a Lip Smacker.

That’s just one example from when we were young, but honestly that story could just as easily be about the Shakuhachi flagship store opening in Melbourne in 2011, or watching brand new AJE walk down the shoppable runway at VAMFF in 2018… except swap out our mum for our debit cards, and the Lip Smacker for a questionable lipstick colour we would definitely be cringing about in years to come.

So how did we go from the buying-addicted Rebecca Bloomwood in Confessions of a Shopaholic, to being the totally ethical Kat Edison in The Bold Type?

Well, it certainly didn’t happen overnight. Once we started becoming aware of the impact our purchasing was having on the environment, we knew things needed to change but the idea of going cold tofurkey was way too painful, so we decided to take things step by step.

We’ll lay them out for you here in the hopes that it’s helpful for your own purchasing journey:

Step 1: Create your own values screening list

Animal-free usually has a lighter footprint, and things made from recycled materials are stopping the constant production of new. Adding filters like this to your purchasing will make your decisions more thoughtful – key in a world where a cotton shirt costs less than an oat milk latte.  You know the feeling when a package arrives and you’re like “uh this is awkward I genuinely don’t remember what’s in here”? We’ve all been there. Being more thoughtful in your purchases will help you avoid that.  

Step 2: Rethink fast fashion

Fast fashion has made fashion trends so accessible – which TBH we thought was amazing until we realised it wasn’t, because it’s actually just making us feel like we need all the trends. Rather than over buying, we challenge you to walk away with one piece rather than five. Guaranteed that one piece will receive way more love and attention, and if you’re honest the other four would’ve ended up in the next wardrobe cull anyway.

Step 3: Stop clearing out your closet

We know this is a total Marie Kondo faux pas, but fashion is cyclable baby! The trends you like in the future will probs be the trends you liked in the past. So hold onto that pair of skinny jeans that give you the ick because in two years time you’ll find yourself longing for them. We’ve even got an “archive” box in our wardrobes where we put things we’re not feeling at the moment, so that they’re not taking up wardrobe space, and when we do bring them out again they feel brand spanking new.  

Step 4: Find other ways to satisfy the urge

The good news is that the full body thrill we described earlier isn’t exclusive to fashion purchases, so if you really need to buy something (we’re talking need not just want) there are places you can channel that energy fairly guilt free. For us, it’s buying a new vegan cheese, treating ourselves to a massage, a new cookbook, or some incense. Create your own list for the next time you get the itch.

Step 5: Keep yourself accountable

Create a little log on your phone of the fashion purchases you are making. At best it’ll make you feel incredible when you look back and see how much less frequent your purchasing is… at worst you will realise you have already bought three jumpers this winter and no you do not need a fourth.

Having said all this, you do ultimately have a body and feet that probably benefit from being covered from time to time. And when those times come up, and you do need to dabble in a little bit of fashion: do it thoughtfully.

Buy vintage or second hand where possible, buy from brands you know are doing better, and for the love of goddess please purchase consciously!

Think about it, sit on it, and then think about it some more. And if a couple weeks later it’s still feeling right… ENJOY - guilt free.

We can definitely promise that the less you buy, the easier it becomes to buy less.

Jess & Stef Dadon, TWOOBS Founders.