While consumerism is good for the economy, it is detrimental to the climate. According to a 2015 report published in the Journal of Industrial Economy, household consumption accounts for more than 60 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
However, cutting back on spending isn’t a pleasant path for shopaholics. And it’s been even more difficult with the pandemic in the picture.
Buying goods means buying peace?
With people spending the majority of their time online, it comes as no surprise that ‘retail therapy' skyrocketed during the Covid-19 crisis.
“During the pandemic, online shopping served as a coping mechanism for me. Whenever I was feeling blue, I would find myself pressing the ‘buy' button on various beauty and skincare products,” shared Trisha, a fresh graduate from North South University.
Shopping, according to clinical psychologists, has a lot of psychological and therapeutic benefits, if done in moderation. Even window shopping and online surfing can help us derive a great deal of pleasure.
According to a study published in Psychology & Marketing (2011) at Pennsylvania State University, 62 per cent of participants engaged in impulse buying to uplift their mood.
However, if you are deeply in impulse buying habits, you may try ‘No-Buy’ to maintain your pocket’s health as well as the health of the environment.
What is a no-buy?
Nevertheless, no-buy does not imply “Don’t buy anything at all.” Rather, consumers pledge to use what they already own and forego all other purchases for the duration of the year.
What you make of a no-buy year is up to you. There are no hard and fast rules, so everyone is free to create their own rulebook.
“Last year, I went on an online shopping frenzy and it was wrecking my finances. So I decided to try out a no-buy in 2021. I have refrained from purchasing any new books until I'd finish reading the ones I already own,” said Farhin, a 3rd-year architecture student and an avid reader.
Try low-buy instead
For beginners, a no-buy year might sound daunting. This is where a low-buy year comes to play.
A low-buy year is a more relaxed version of a no-buy year. Rather than eliminating all expenses, you can indulge in limited shopping during the year. For example, if you have a habit of ordering take-out twice per week, you should probably restrict it to once every two weeks.
If a low-buy year also seems too big a leap to take just yet, start slim with a low-buy month, or even week.
Masrur Mohammad Shihabuddin, a 4th-year business student at the Bangladesh University of Professional, commented, “I remember my parents teaching me this lesson when I was a child. ‘If you want something, wait a while; chances are the feeling will pass.’
“So recently I have started keeping a running list of things I want and enforcing a 15-day trial period before purchasing. Only if I'm as enthralled with the Air Jordan on day 15 as I was on day one, it is a sign that I should buy it. Otherwise, it’s a no-go.”
Here are some tips on how to stick to a low-buy year.
Decide on your ‘why’
First, determine why you want to participate in the low-buy challenge. You'll need the motivation to resist the urge of going on a shopping spree.
Do you want to limit your expenses and change your shopping habit? Are you concerned about ethical fashion? Or, do you want to put money aside for a trip abroad or a high-end investment in the coming years?
Compile a list of your expenses
You'll be able to save money only if you know what you spend your money on. Go through your credit card statements and cash expenses and add them all up.
Start with smaller goals
It can be difficult to commit to limiting your purchases for a year, particularly if you're used to buying frequently. Start with a no-buy week or month, or opt for a low-buy year by selecting a few no-buy categories or setting spending limits.
Make doable rules
Make none of your rules overly complex or confusing if you want to have a good low-buy year. Your rules should be crystal clear and leave no room for additional purchases.
Estimate all the occasions you expect to spend money on, whether it's birthday gifts or a new outfit for yourself. For example, if you normally buy Eid gifts for your cousins without a budget, a reasonable low-buy rule will be to spend no more than a specific amount.
Decide on your categories
Once you’ve figured out what you tend to spend on, decide on the categories you will create rules around. In other words, create a list of the purchases you will and will not allow yourself to make.
Would you impose restrictions on clothing purchases, beauty products, ordering take-out, or all of the above?
Although no-buy and low-buy trends appear to be anti-consumerism at first glance, it is rather a movement towards sustainability. The movement is really about learning to spend consciously, in alignment with one’s values, rather than compulsively.
The true essence of the movement is defined by personal independence, self-reflection, emotional mastery and greater personal choice.