BY ERICA DANIELLE GARCIA
Shopping online can be a luxury in many ways. If you have access to the Internet, almost any product is at your fingertips – all you have to do is purchase it and it'll be delivered straight to your door. However, what many people sometimes forget is that the more you shop, the more you consume, and now with many leading retailers encouraging customers to "buy now, pay later," the entire world market has seen a huge increase in non-essential shopping during the pandemic.
To own items before you pay for them encourages people to believe that paying the price for anything is simply an afterthought. With that same mindset, they wouldn't think twice about the environmental effects that major increases in online shopping could have on the planet. Shopping conscientiously suddenly becomes an afterthought, too. Here are a few ways in which buying now and paying later will lead to major consequences for the environment.
Buy now...pay later
All you have to do is agree, and the products you order online will be sent straight to your door. It's as simple as that … and it's also as harmful to the environment as it can be.
Platforms like Afterpay, a technological company that integrates its online services onto thousands of leading retail websites, allow shoppers to order any product they want and pay for it in small installments afterwards. Since the world went into lockdown, one of the most popular ways of coping with at-home isolation for many people has been online shopping. With so many jobs lost, though, how is it possible that everyone can still afford to just keep buying more?
In three simple steps, you can find any product you want online – apparel, makeup, accessories – and if the seller uses Afterpay, all you have to do is create an account and agree to pay in short installments over the course of a few weeks from the date you placed your order. Despite it being essentially the same service as a tangible credit card, it is causing peaks in mass production everywhere. Not only this, but the idea of "buying now and paying later" has become so attractive in branding and marketing that so many people are using it to validate their desire to buy things they don't really need.
It's time to be honest. The act of paying by installments is helpful for a lot of people, as it saves many the struggle of letting go of their money right away. However, because you don't feel the sting of regret of immediate spending, it can be really easy to get caught up in wanting to spend even more, just because you don't have to pay for it now.
Tricked by consumerism
The more you buy, the more companies will produce. The more materials are used, the more factory workers will work overtime and stay underpaid. It's a cycle that unfortunately leads from one harmful thing to another. I'm not talking about placing orders online for essentials from your local grocery store – I'm addressing shopping for non-essential things.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a little retail therapy, but let's be honest, that's considered a huge privilege – and yes, of course, you are allowed to find joy in the small things. However, it becomes a problem when large numbers of people are led to believe, through marketing tactics and online platforms set in place by major fashion brands and big-name companies, that spending with an afterthought has no repercussions on the planet.
It produces waste, it promotes consumerism, and it causes damage.
One of the most eco-friendly things you can do as a sustainably-conscious shopper is to not shop at all. Make the most of the clothes you love that are in your closet right now, and if you find yourself unable to feel happy or comfortable or confident in the things you already own, then consider donating or recycling something before purchasing a new item.
If you're someone who is looking to be a little more conscious about waste and production, especially in clothing or fashion, just ask yourself before you place that order if you truly need what you're about to buy. It's a small thing to do, but we all play a part in caring for the environment. Our actions have consequences, and we can change the wild amount of online spending 2020 has already seen.