I’m the first to put my hand up to say that I have engaged in retail therapy. And it appears I am not alone; it’s reported that 5.2 million Australians shopped online in April last year following COVID-19. There are many reasons why retail therapy works. Shopping lifts our mood by activating dopamine which creates feelings of pleasure and reward. You don’t even have to make a purchase. The act of browsing (or adding to cart) activates dopamine by anticipating the sale. Shopping has also been linked to the positive impacts of visualisation. Just as elite athletes visualise their peak performance, visualising our lives with the products we’ve bought makes us feel happy. Additionally, retail therapy helps restores a sense of control; is a creative outlet for some; and offers relaxation and an escape.
Retail Therapy makes us feel good – but is it sustainable? Great ways to enhance the feel-good factor of shopping include: visiting your local op shop; buying pre-loved before new; supporting organisations that have ethical and sustainable practices and products; as well as supporting local businesses. Retail therapy while doing a good deed – talk about double happiness!
Shake off any misconception you may have about op shopping. Op shopping is widely embraced and there are many great reasons to buy second-hand. Being able to experiment with new styles, while supporting great causes and the environment are some of the reasons I op shop. Get started by looking up opportunity shops by location or charity – will over 2500 stores in Australia, there’s bound to be a great purchase waiting for you! If you prefer online shopping, you’ll be pleased to know there are many options available. My top tip is to get in the habit of donating clothes and household items that you no longer use each time you make a purchase. This keeps the cycle going and clothes out of landfill. Ensure items are in a condition that you’d be comfortable giving to family or friends.
Support small businesses
There are 43 reasons you should support small businesses. One of the biggest reason is small businesses have the potential to support our economic recovery. It’s been reported that small businesses employ close to 5 million people and account for 57 percent of job growth. There are 3.5 million small businesses in Australia that contribute to a third of our economic activity so shop local as much as possible. You can find local businesses via sites such as Small Business Near Me, True Local, the ‘Click For Vic’ campaign, or a simple Google search.
Buy sustainable products
Sustainability and eco-brands are rising in popularity. As a result, many organisations are engaging in greenwashing to create the false impression that their products are good for the environment. There are a number of things to consider to ensure you support the right brands. Is the organisation or product certified or recognised by reputable industry awards? Some certificates to look out for include: Fair Trade, Global Recycled Standard, GoodWeave, and Certified B Corporation. A number of years ago, a UK fast-fashion retailer was under fire after reports of SOS letters being found sewn into their garments. That’s why it’s important to know what the employee working conditions are like. The material and packaging is another consideration. Synthetic fibres such as polyester can take 200 years to break down. It’s better to purchase natural fibres (such as cotton, silk, wool, cashmere, and hemp) and bio-degradable material.
How many items sit in your closet never or barely worn? Buying pre-loved items lets you tap into some great purchases for a fraction of the price, while helping the environment. Facebook marketplace, eBay, and Gumtree are all well-known. But if you are looking for a unique vintage or high-end item, check out sites such as SWOP or the RealReal. You can find a more detailed list here.
With all shopping, the trick is to not spend more than you can afford, otherwise, it can lead to stress and decrease the positive benefits. If you find yourself constantly using retail therapy to lift a low mood or reduce stress, it might be time to develop other strategies and explore the heart of the problem. As a consumer, you have the power to change the world through how you spend your money. I hope these suggestions will help you practice retail therapy in a more sustainable way.
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