Why shopping is a bad hobby (and what to do instead)

Why shopping is a bad hobby (and what to do instead)
"I know I should shop less, but it's my favourite thing to do!"

Buying less, becoming a more conscious consumer, shopping for quality not quantity: All of that is hard enough as it is in the age of social media and fast fashion. But when you love shopping, when you can't think of anything more fun than combing through racks of clothes on the weekend or clicking through the new arrival pages of your favourite brands online, buying less can seem like an impossible challenge.

If you've tried to shop less in the past, but quickly found yourself reverting back to old habits, because you just love shopping too much, don't worry: not all is lost. You just need to find a new hobby!



Shopping for the sake of shopping

Before we get into how to find an effective replacement, let’s quickly make sure we are all on the same page about why shopping isn’t a great hobby to have in the first place:

  1. Besides the fact that a shopping hobby will undoubtedly make you spend more money than you would like to, it also isn’t great from an ethical perspective because the more you shop (especially from fast fashion brands), the more you are contributing to the negative effects the fashion industry has on workers and the environment.
  2. You are also not doing your own closet any favours by adding to it on a weekly basis (or even more often). If shopping is your hobby, you buy stuff for the experience: to have fun, to relax, to be creative, right in that moment. Things like whether you’ll actually wear that piece, how it fits in with the rest of your wardrobe and even how much you like it, come secondary. Eventually, you end up with a jam-packed closet full of stand-alone pieces that were fun to buy, but that don’t reflect your style or work with your lifestyle.

How to quit

People love to shop for different reasons. Some find it ridiculously relaxing, for some it's their go-to creative outlet, for others a fun, low-stress way to spend time with friends. What's your reason?

Think about what situations and times you usually want to shop. What mood are you in? What mood are you in post-shop? Really try to dig deep here. Then: Find something that gives you the same experience that shopping does. Because there are plenty of other ways to be creative, have fun with fashion or just relax after a long day at work, that don’t involve spending money and adding yet another so-so item to your wardrobe. For example, if you tend to shop online to unwind at night, think about what else might give you that same feeling of relaxation. A bubble bath perhaps? Or curling up with a good book?

To help you figure out your personal most effective shopping replacement, I’ve created a little typology of the most common types of “hobby shoppers”. 

Each profile contains a quick description and a few recommendations for shopping alternatives. Read through each profile and see which ones you identify with. Use the suggested alternatives as a jumping off point to write your own list of activities. Then try them out the next time you feel like hitting the shops or buying something online.  

There are five types in total, but of course you can be a combination. For example, during my shopaholic phase a few years ago, I was both the true creative and the social shopper.

If currently consider shopping a hobby: what type of shopper are you?


1. The stylist


Your shopping habits

  • When you shop you enjoy imagining all the different ways you could wear a piece.
  • You put a lot of time and effort into styling and fine-tuning your outfits.
  • You read blogs and fashion magazines for outfit inspiration.

Your best shopping alternatives

  • Instead of buying new pieces as a way to expand your outfit repertoire, challenge yourself to make the absolute most out of clothes you already own.
  • Complete a 30x30 remix challenge (try to come up with a new daily outfit created from the same 30 pieces for one month).
  • Swap clothes with friends.

2. The fashion lover


Your shopping habits

  • You read high-fashion magazines like Vogue or Elle to admire the beautiful editorials and keep up with new collections.
  • You love fashion for its artistic value and cultural relevance.
  • You follow fashion week and can name your favourite designers.

Your best shopping alternatives

  • Go to fashion design/photography/history exhibitions, fairs or museums
  • Get into fashion illustration (take a class or just start sketching with a book like this).
  • Learn to design and/or sew your own clothes
  • Start a blog about fashion (not shopping!)

3. The true creative


Your shopping habits

  • You are an all-around visual person. You like making things look good.
  • Apart from fashion, you also have other creative interests like interior design, photography, make up, arts and crafts, sewing or graphic design.
  • You consider your style an expression of your personality.

Your best shopping alternatives

  • Shift your focus to another one of your creative interests: Take a ceramics class, practice your photography skills or take on a big DIY project to spruce up your home.
  • Spend time refining your personal style and map out your dream wardrobe.
  • Start a blog to document and showcase your many interests and projects.

4. The social shopper


Your shopping habits

  • You primarily shop with friends, family or your significant other.
  • You often hit the shops just to chat and catch up with a friend. Buying stuff is secondary (but of course it always happens).
  • Shopping has become a ritual in some of your relationships.

Your best shopping alternatives

  • Find other low-effort, but active ways to spend time with friends: Visit museums, galleries or street fairs together, or go on walks or hikes.
  • Explore what other interests you share apart from clothes and find activities you could do together.
  • Build new friendship rituals, for example instead of spending each Saturday shopping, met up at a new coffee place.

5. The chill seeker


Your shopping habits

  • You online shop after a long day at work to chill out and reward yourself.
  • During the day, you’ll periodically spend a couple of minutes on shopping sites, to take a break and relax for a moment.
  • Walking through town and checking out your favourite stores is an efficient way for you to unwind during your lunch break, after work and on weekends.

Your best shopping alternatives

  • Try out yoga or meditation.
  • Get up and walk through your office if you need a break at work.
  • Instead of shopping on weekends, consider spending a couple of hours each week to learn a new skill.
  • Make a list of easy, low-effort things you can do to relax at home: Do a mini stretching session, take a bubble bath, read, bake something, make something, and so on.