Is fast-fashion consumerism an addiction?

By Melissa | News
Posted Mar 5, 2013

Not sure how or even when it happened but, as a whole, our consumption habits have gotten a little out of control.  We buy things out of boredom, to make us feel better, sometimes for no reason at all.  If you ask me, this habit, this addiction of sorts, to instant gratification by way of having things has got to end.

Material objects can only fill the void for so long.  There is always going to be something.  Instead, we should look at what is really missing. What will make us happy and content with all that we have and all that we are.  Like any other habit that consumes, an addiction to shopping should be realized and not taken lightly.  Sure some are more prone to repetitive ways but all the more reason to know yourself- your strengths and your weaknesses.  If you know you are easily swayed or tempted- don’t put yourself in risky situations.  Remove yourself from the daily deal subscriptions, stop browsing during lunch and take action into your own hands.

You think, what is the harm in a little retail therapy?  Well, when you take into account everything that goes into making said item, not to mention the way it influences your own sense of self, you may start to live more consciously and cut down on the spending.

In response to this preoccupation with having more, there have been a whole host of consumer led movements such as, but not limited to The Great American Apparel Diet which began in September 2009, when a group of 20 decided to not buy any “new apparel” for the whole year. Many have joined since in the collective act of reevaluating shopping habits.   In keeping with the not buying trend, Buy Nothing Day/Occupy X-mas asked us to protest against consumerism by not buying anything for 24 hours on November 23, 2012.  In doing this, Adbusters wants to challenge capitalism to help solve the gigantic pyscho-financial-eco crisis of our time.  Both the 6 Items or Less and One Dress Protest have its participants re-wearing the same item(s) for a set period of time, a month for the former, a year for the latter.  To prove that we don’t need (to wear) as much as we want- eyes bigger than stomach kind of deal.

Then of course, there is minimalism which is more of a lifestyle approach than the limited time acts mentioned above. “Minimalism is a tool used to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”

All with the underlying theme of bringing us back to a simpler way of living.  Living with meaning, purpose and integrity.  To place value not on our possessions but on all the things we often take for granted and are worth far more- the things that matter.

There was once a time when all that mattered (in business) was the bottom line.  From there came the triple bottom line taking into account people, planet and profit.  And now? It seems as though the gears have shifted to the producers telling us to consider the impact our purchases have.  The ‘Don’t Buy This Jacket’ campaign by Pantagonia was launched on Cyber Monday- the day we’re to shop online (because we really need an excuse). The purpose? To get people to really think before they buy.

Seems a bit odd, shouldn’t a clothing company be promoting purchases?  Encouraging, rather than discouraging, us to buy more, and particularly their wares?  More recently yet in the same vein, Dame Vivian Westwood said about Kate Middleton:

“It would be great if she wore the same clothes over and again because that’s very good for the environment and it would send out a very nice message”.

Similar root, different avenue.  So what has changed?

I think people have begun to realize that we have to think beyond ourselves.  That our actions have a greater impact on the collective whole and that in working together, rather than focusing on always trying to fill our own (often material) desires, we can make this world a better place.

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