We’ve all heard the term shopaholic referring to someone who is always hitting the mall, swiping their credit card, and getting packages delivered to their door. But can you actually be addicted to shopping? Some experts might say yes, some might say no. However, shopping has been shown to release endorphins and dopamine in the brain which may lead to the drive for making purchases over and over again (Find more on that here.). Getting something new also just creates a good feeling. If you order it online, it makes your day a little brighter having something show up at your door. Retail therapy can feel like a pretty real thing. Buying something can cause a lift in mood but if we aren’t cherishing that item every time we use it, you might find yourself needing to buy another new item to get that same feeling. Thus, the vicious cycle can continue.
I haven’t been immune to the shopping bug. I love fashion and wearing outfits that make me feel unique. I’ve found clothes and make up to be a great way of expressing myself. I also just love spending time walking around a mall with friends or scrolling a website in-between classes. Window shopping is just as fun as making purchases. However, I sometimes fall into the trap of using shopping as a way to feel better. Trying on something nice with a friend and buying it after a long day of work is rewarding. This isn’t bad all the time, I like treating myself to a new shirt after a tough semester or for a holiday dinner. Getting excited for a new item to come in the mail can also be a fun surprise. But that mentality can be a slippery slope. One purchase to reward yourself turns into needing a reward after every day of work and snowballs out of control. You can start to depend on the feeling of getting something new to bring joy or even just get you through the day. The reason I find shopping a conflicting past time is I love clothes and fashion, but I struggle with the ethical side of it. I want to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly, but most fashion isn’t made with the earth and human rights in mind. And the fashion that is made with that in mind tends to cost more than my student budget allows.
So, what have I been doing? I try to really cherish the pieces of clothes I do have so I don’t just get one moment of happiness when I buy them, but I cherish every moment I wear them. I’ve been trying to be more selective with the things I do buy and wait for them to go on-sale to save a bit of money. Thinking through my purchases and seeing if I already have something similar and only looking for things, I know I would really like or need. Secondhand shopping has also become a good pastime. Surfing Facebook marketplace for used items or going to secondhand stores instead of the mall has been great. I also love supporting local and Canadian businesses instead of larger companies as a way to use my shopping habits for a better cause. It’s tough when something that you enjoy doesn’t always align with your values. I love putting together new outfits but I also value taking care of our planet and saving my money to use on other things. It is hard to have both, so I do my best to find balance and harm reduction.