Extreme Shopping and the lure of restraint
If you spend any amount of time on TikTok or Instagram, you’ve definitely noticed an uptick in videos showcasing outrageous shopping sprees. Since the global rise of TikTok in 2020, “haul” videos have been all the rage on social media platforms, with fast fashion brands like Shein and ASOS being the most popular brands among influencers.
Currently, the tag #haul has accumulated over 18 billion views on TikTok, while the tag #makeuphaul counts well over 350 million views. The demand for this type of content is not slowing down anytime soon… but consumer culture is not a monolith, and for every trend, there’s always going to be a counterculture!
So, what is the root cause of this craze, and what opposing trends are challenging the popularity of online hauls and the idea of extreme shopping?
What makes hauls so alluring?
TikTok might be a new platform, but hauls are really nothing new. The trend first appeared in the early 2010s as a YouTube phenomenon, driven by the rise of lifestyle, makeup, and fashion vlogging.
A decade on, the reason for their appeal hasn’t really changed: Watching fashion and beauty influencers share their latest buys helps consumers keep up with trends and discover new products, all while living vicariously through their shopping.
But what has changed is the sheer amount of items users expect to see.
High street brands have fallen out of style in favor of inexpensive fast fashion, and when it comes to makeup and skincare products, there is definitely an aspect of quantity over quality — the more brands, the better!
According to some of these influencers, the boredom of lockdowns during the pandemic is largely to blame for their splurges. In an interview with Business Insider, influencer Mandy Lee shares that the combination of idle days, more free time, and higher disposable income was the perfect storm for indulging in overconsumption and recording hauls.
Needless to say, it’s the pursuit of social status and profitable online visibility that continues driving the popularity of hauls. But what happens when an online fad has real-life consequences?
The dangers of indulgence
For many, the normalization of overshopping is a dangerous trend, and a troubling example for younger social media users. The more consumers buy massive amounts of cheap clothing (often with no intention of wearing any of the garments for more than one occasion) the more support unsustainable and unethical businesses get.
And when it comes to skincare and makeup products, the push for filling your bag with as many beauty items as possible often means that consumers won’t be looking at the fine print of ingredients as much, or invest in quality formulas. After all, shopping for dozens of quality items that are both good for you and the planet at one go (during a shopping spree) is not a routine that most can follow…
The “No Buy” solution
To oppose the overconsumption fad, few sustainable trends have been as successful as the “No Buy” or “Low Buy” movement.
As the name suggests, this philosophy is all about the power of restraint: First designed as a personal finance challenge, the idea of having a “No Buy Year” pushes against excessive shopping by challenging consumers to only buy the essentials and what they need to replace, and nothing more, for an entire year. This might be an extreme course of action, but it can definitely help get your finances in check and reset your relationship with mindless consumerism.
On top of saving money and fixing harmful shopping habits, the challenge can help reduce your carbon footprint, as you’ll be limiting the amount of plastic packaging you consume and driving down demand for polluting products.
Redefining sustainable shopping
But despite its best intentions, even the “No Buy” rule can fail the eco-conscious and mindful shoppers.
The idea of restricting our consumption to nothing more than the bare essentials can also lock us in a bubble: When it comes to buying makeup and skincare products, the no-spend philosophy might push some to ignore what their skin needs and avoid purchasing products that, while superfluous at a glance, might really help improve one’s relationship with their own skin.
In addition, the impact you can make by supporting the brands that are doing the most to change the industry for the better can’t be understated — there are plenty of sustainable fashion brands participating in carbon-offsetting projects around the world!
This is the tale of two extremes, with no better solution in sight than to take the time to research all brands, ingredients, and materials we come across, so we can make a conscious choice and decide what’s really worth our time and money.
At its core, mindful consumption is ByteWrthy’s purpose… It’s not an easy journey, but it’s one of the most valuable tools for improving ourselves and the world!