How To Break Your 'Addiction' To Fast Fashion — With 7 Simple Questions

Consuming less saves more than just money.

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Did you know the Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton, wore a rented gown to a gala in 2022? It was an event focusing on solutions to pressing environmental concerns and attendees were asked to focus on sustainability in attire, but she’s not alone.

Cate Blanchette opted to re-wear only, i.e., no new outfits, at a film festival in 2020.

In 2019, Jane Fonda vowed not to buy any more clothes.

The average garment is worn only about seven times. Americans typically buy at least one clothing item a week.


Some of us can even find things we’ve had for years with the tags still on, or garments we’ve worn only once or twice.

Underuse and overbuying apply not only to clothing. When I see post-holiday or post-birthday curbside piles of my neighbors’ trash, piles that often include many things that seem worthy of repurposing or donating, I wonder, what about the state of our planet?

Pre-contemplation is the first step of habit change, and you’re doing it by reading this article and asking yourself if you want to make a change.

In contemplation, the second step of change, we think there might be a problem and maybe we need to change our behavior, but we’re not completely sure.


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Here are seven questions to help you contemplate if you want to go from avid buying to buying less (but using more)

1. Seeking a quick fix?

You’re feeling sad, lonely or hurt and decide that you’d rather be looking online for the perfect purchase, feeling that little bump of dopamine as the possibilities are perused.

As we shop we anticipate feeling good when we have this object or wear this outfit. Unwrapping the package creates another little thrill that feels so good you can briefly forget you were bored or sad a moment ago.


Like using drugs, shopping to avoid negative emotions is a short-term fix. Like all drugs, you need more and more to keep the feelings at bay. Those feelings will return to haunt you as soon as the shopping is over and the gift to yourself arrives, is unpacked and lodges itself at the back of your closet. Then you need to get more stuff. It will never be enough.

Addressing the feelings may be more difficult but also provides a more lasting fix. You may be able to wait it out since most slightly negative feelings dissipate on their own. You could address it in some other way.

If it’s loneliness call a friend. If you’re feeling hurt, consider how to accept that feeling so you can move on.  Approaching feelings head-on is more useful than trying to cancel them out, temporarily, with shopping.

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2. Trying to create a false sense of confidence?

There’s an event to attend and you think the perfect little black dress will significantly boost your confidence. You’re thinking of taking your first yoga class and it’s a little intimidating so you decide acquiring yoga togs will get you through.

Yes, these things may add a snippet of confidence, but what is it you really need?

Try facing a social event with a few conversational gambits to employ, or by tapping into your inner strength (you’ve succeeded at more difficult things), confidence (try a power pose) or authenticity (be your amazing self) instead.

Face your fear of the new by watching a few intro yoga videos. Arming yourself with information about what you’re getting into will serve you better than the clothes.


Taking a few moments to identify the need and how you might address that need is more direct and effective and sometimes the urge to splurge disappears.

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3. Adding to your clutter?

You’re on a vacation and decide you need the perfect souvenir, in addition to the 50 selfies you took, to help you remember it.

We add clutter by mindlessly going to the swap meet (you’re not really swapping anything but your money for their junk) or browsing sale sites.

Not to be a Debbie downer, but you can waste a lot of time during that vaca looking for a memento instead of enjoying the scenery, doing something novel or having a fun conversation with your travel partner or a fellow traveler.


While keeping meaningful possessions makes sense, clutter is upsetting.

Ask yourself whether you really need that refrigerator magnet to remember the beach trip.

Or, was there ever a “great price” for the alabaster owl you got at the last flea market?

RELATED: 5 Ways To Start Decluttering When You're Feeling Too Overwhelmed By The Mess

4. Does your friend need that new (hat/scarf/belt/4G TV)?

When I sent a friend a link to a New York Times article about our grad school town and she said she’d exhausted her free, monthly articles, I thought, aha, a great gift that won’t eventually wind up in the landfill.

Money toward a trip I was planning was a welcome birthday gift for me one year.


There’s always the donation of trees or money that doesn’t wind up in the landfill.

Gifting your time or services is another creative solution for friends and loved ones, e.g., I’ll clean your house for your birthday or dog sit next time you’re away.

Sometimes you do know the perfect thing someone wants, and that’s fine, but often there are alternatives.

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5. What does the environment need?

The things we own affect the environment. We make, buy and throw out too much stuff.

Buying green is not always better for the environment.

Buying used is an improvement. Not acquiring things, especially those you do not need, is better.


You don’t have to be an eco-warrior, but wisely choosing whether to buy based on the impact of your behavior on the planet can boost well-being and help you tap into gratitude for what you have.

That makes you an all-around nicer person to hang with.

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6. Could you reduce, reuse or recycle?

These options may not always seem as practical, but if you use your imagination there are possibilities.

Reduce waste by darning your socks. Okay, maybe not, but you can probably sew up that hole in the armpit of your shirt in less time than it takes for one episode of Stranger Things.


Buying used or vintage and renting items are simple ways to reuse items.

Do you have any idea how many ways there are to creatively repurpose a reusable grocery bag? Turning a bag into a purse is beyond my skillset, but perhaps not yours.

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7. Can you afford it?

The foregoing are some reasons we buy or might not choose to buy, but it’s also good to consider whether this item is something you want to spend money on. In the heat of the moment, the answer is usually yes.

Alternatively, take a moment, a few deep breaths, get yourself to the cold, hard light of day and ask yourself if this is where you want your money to go.


Know that, as the quick fix fades and the pseudo-confidence dissipates, your latest Amazon purchase sits there, a reminder of your money less than well-spent.  A little contemplation can yield a very different decision.

The next time you’re considering the new shirt or tchotchke that will absolutely change your life, or a gift-giving occasion approaches, you might consider where you stand on these questions.

Yes, figuring out what needs you have and addressing them is more difficult than shopping, and repurposing or reusing is more work than just kicking it to the curb, but at what cost?

To be egotistically altruistic about it, won’t you feel better if you make some choices for the greater good of yourself and the planet?


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Judith Tutin, Ph.D., ACC, is a licensed psychologist and certified life coach. She aims to bring more passion, fun, and wellness into her clients' lives.