As social distancing becomes the new norm, you may find yourself turning to online shopping to feel something. Whether it's the thrill of a bargain sale or browsing items as a means of escapism, the science behind our scrolling is clear: humans get a big dopamine hit from buying stuff.
According to research by Ann-Christine Duhaime, a professor of neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School, online shopping allows us to experience both instant and delayed gratification.
“As a general rule, your brain tweaks you to want more, more, more—indeed, more than those around you—both of ‘stuff’ and of stimulation and novelty —because that helped you survive in the distant past of brain evolution,” Duhaime wrote in her essay for Harvard Business Review, exploring the link between consumerism and environmental damage.
So what do you do when every fibre in your being, regardless of the status of your wallet, tells you to add to cart?
Sal Edwards, Program Coordinator of Fashion & Sustainability, has a simple planet-friendly solution for when boredom strikes: experiment with the items you have, and make it a process with checkboxes.
AUDIT YOUR WARDROBE
"A wardrobe audit is a fantastic first step in avoiding unnecessary purchases," they share. "With all this time indoors, your first step can be taking stock of what you already have. Do a count of everything and see if there is anything you really need."
Edwards says by reflecting on the contents of your wardrobe, it will tell you more about you and your style. "Reviewing your wardrobe will show what you value when it comes to clothing, and you will rediscover what you forgot you already have," they say.
GET CREATIVE WITH SWAPS
With items you may have no use for anymore, Edwards suggests holding onto them for a future clothing swap or to pass along to friends, family, or housemates that you live with.
"Instagram is a fantastic way to trade with friends or people online," they continue. "A great example of this can be seen in how secondhand clothing store Swop have been using Instagram to communicate with their customers."
Edwards suggest trying something similar with your friends, though you may have to figure out a postage deal or wait a little while for an IRL swap. "But just like online shopping, you will have some fun new items to look forward to in future."
EXPERIMENT WITH LOOKS
Playing dress up is also a great way to break up your time and familiarise yourself with your closet. "Try unexpected outfit combinations in the comfort of your own home and send to your best mates for feedback," they say. "Get experimental!"
TRY YOUR DIY LUCK
Looking at your clothes from a new perspective can also revalue your items, Edwards notes, looking to repairing and upcycling. "YouTube has some great resources for DIY repairs, as well as resources like Fashion Revolution. Try darning, patching, or embroidering," they suggest.
"For those more confident sewers, see if you can turn your garments into something else! Just make sure to have a plan so you aren't just ruining perfectly good clothes."
DONATE WHAT YOU CAN
As a final step, Edwards suggests making a list of place you could donate any unwanted goods. "Places like Dressed for Success, Swop, Fitted for Work, Launching House, St Kilda Mums, Minus 18, Ygender, and Uplift are all alternatives to op-shops who are often being donated far more than they are capable of sorting and selling," they say.
As with all exercises of self-reflection, being honest with yourself is key to avoiding boredom buys. The next time you find yourself scrolling, take a moment to ask yourself: do I really, truly, need this?