The ‘no-buy’ movement: could you give up buying clothes and beauty products?

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Shortcuts Environment The 'no-buy' movement: could you give up buying clothes and beauty products?

With the fashion industry’s environmental impact under scrutiny, there’s a move to eschew new stuff and wear what you already own

Will the ‘no-buy’ movement mark the end of ‘so last season’? Photograph: Radius Images/Alamy Stock Photo

Splashed out in the sales? Cashed in your Christmas gift cards? The average Briton spends more than £1,000 on new clothes and shoes each year, according to the statistics agency Eurostat – and many are shelling out much, much more. But with a focus now on the environmental impact of the fashion industry, some of the bloggers, vloggers and influencers who cut their teeth sharing details of an endless array of new clothes and products, are changing tack – enter the “no-buy” movement.

The idea is simple: instead of buying new clothes or beauty products, you make a commitment to use the things you already own. Some people, such as the beauty blogger Hannah Louise Poston, sign up to a “no-buy year” – and document their progress in much the same way that they once tracked their purchases. Others pledge not to buy for a few weeks or months or opt for “low-buy” options with a strict spending cap. A subreddit thread named MakeupRehab, offering tips and support for those undertaking not to buy new products, now has more than 50,000 subscribers.

“Social media puts pressure on people to spend money they don’t have,” says Katherine Ormerod, author of Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life. She began a four-week “no buy” last month. With YouTube videos titled “$2,000+ makeup & beauty haul!” receiving more than 640,000 views, it is little wonder that many of us feel encouraged to overspend. But the temptation and “buzz” of getting your hands on the latest product can be hard to quell. Having new things feels good, says Ormerod. But wearing treasures that have an emotional resonance can feel incredible, too – something you don’t hear about in the social media context because it doesn’t make anyone any money.

Of course, many online influencers have well-stocked wardrobes and bathroom cabinets, and are given the items they use and wear in posts, or are paid to wear them, but Ormerod is committed to not wearing any new products or clothes she is given. “Really I just want to reassure people they don’t have to spend a wedge on fashion every month to look stylish and there’s no such thing as ‘so last season’ any more,” she says. “True style has never been about that anyway.”

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