My name is Priyanka Shahra and I was a shopaholic. I shopped excessively because it was accessible, affordable and quite frankly, I didn’t know any better.
My addiction of shopping was abetted by many who like me, genuinely believed that the only collateral damage from mindless consumption was overspending.
THE SIDE EFFECTS
SIDE EFFECT 1: Quantity over quality
ME: “Is it on sale? Two for the price of one? I’ll take it! ”
Sound familiar fellow addicts? This attitude of thoughtless acquisition is probably the most hazardous side effect of all.
What I should have thought – “Do I need it or really want it? How many wears will I get out of it? What will I do with it once I’m ‘done’?”
SIDE EFFECT 2: Withdrawals
ME: “I haven’t shopped in 3 days. I don’t even know who I am anymore.”
It was a normal course of life to find a weekly (and unnecessary) parcel at my doorstep. Conventional retail was disrupted by the advent of e-commerce, making it even more accessible and convenient to shop consistently. But moreover, our planet was disrupted by our superior abilities to rapidly destroy resources, at the click of a button.
What I should have thought – “How can I extend the life of my existing wardrobe? How convenient are the repercussions of impulse purchases to our planet?”
SIDE EFFECT 3: Delusion
ME: "Honestly, shopping beats therapy, anytime. It costs the same & you get a dress out of it."
And just like that ‘retail therapy’ became the epithet of the era (or mine at the very least). The adverse effects of this so called ‘therapy’ and culture of wasteful habits, on our planet was no where close to being on my radar.
What I should have thought – “How can I avoid this short term delusional joy, and look within to find more meaningful, sustainable outlets for happiness?”
There didn’t seem to be any antidote in sight because the fast fashion industry is designed not only to feed this addiction, but also to prey on the weak. With 52 micro seasons and constant sales, a fashionista has to be extremely nimble to shop for the latest trends, lest becoming a “has-been”. As fickle as it sounds, this a real pressure in our virtual worlds driven by OOTDs (Outfits of the Day, for you outliers who haven’t yet succumbed).
So, it was against all odds that I chanced upon an antidote, better known as ‘awareness’.
“Fast Fashion isn't free; someone somewhere is paying: - Lucy Siegle
When I learnt that fashion was the 2nd largest polluting industry in as late as 2014, I was both mortified and embarrassed. Was I truly playing a part in the fashion industry’s plight today? In one word, yes! My embarrassment soon turned to accountability and I dove head-first into a fast fashion detox.
MANY SLEEPLESS NIGHTS LATER, SWAPAHOLIC WAS BORN
So as a converted Swapaholic, I invite you all to make a pledge to simply be more mindful - in whatever way that suits your lifestyle. Remember, every time you swap an item over buying new, you;
- reduce it’s carbon footprint by 82%
- conserve at least 2000 litres of water
- save 50%-70% of the firsthand garment value
Can you even imagine the colossal benefits if we embrace this lifestyle? I’m only just beginning to.
Priyanka Shahra is the Founder of Swapaholic and an advocate of urban sustainability.