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Is ‘Retail Therapy’ Bad for the Environment?

Retail therapy is admittedly something that we all need every now and again. But is it getting beyond our control as consumers and ultimately, beginning to destroy our environment?

Retail therapy

Retail therapy is ‘shopping with the primary purpose of improving the buyer’s mood or disposition’. We’re all guilty of buying that top that’s been sitting on our wish list for weeks to cheer us up but it could be doing more harm than good. Let’s be honest, we only feel joy while purchasing and receiving the item and then it’s the environment that has got to suffer because of our few minutes of happiness.

With the rise of online shopping and its continuing growth, it is now easier than ever to follow through with a little retail therapy. You don’t have to be that active to buy clothes, you just click a few buttons and then magically, the clothes are yours. Online shopping is always either in the headlines for bad reasons or good reasons but under the topic of retail therapy, it is majorly bad. Since it’s never been easier to shop, it’s never been easier to buy that top or that dress which then leads to the toxic waste and gases that gets left behind in our atmosphere.

Of course, if your retail go-to is second-hand stores or sites then it’s nowhere near as much of a contribution to climate change. This is a positive to retail therapy in charity shops and sites like Depop. Keep all of this in mind when you next click on PrettyLittleThing to do some retail therapy!

Fast fashion

Mentioning PrettyLittleThing, I had to quickly cover the impact of fast fashion. As the consumer, fast fashion doesn’t personally impact us and in some ways, if we didn’t know the background behind it, it could even possibly be seen as positive for the consumer. It is a quick fix that keeps up with moving fashion trends.

However, the dark side to doing retail therapy with fast fashion brands is that it is severely damaging the planet. CHEC International states that this particular industry is ‘associated with water pollution and consumption, pollution in the ocean, waste accumulation, chemical usage, greenhouse gas emissions, soil degradation and rainforest destruction'. It goes on to say that ‘the speed of fast fashion is making it worse'. So in other words, your few minutes of joyfulness could be causing a huge amount of damage to our surroundings.

The bad thing about this is that there is evidence that fast fashion is continuing to grow. According to Fashion United UK, fast fashion is going to be worth over $200 billion by 2030. This just proves that a lot of people turn to fast fashion when wanting to do some retail therapy, it’s maybe time to turn to second-hand clothes to do sustainable retail therapy instead.


Sustainable retail therapy really does seem to be the way forward. Consumers ideally should be turning to sites such as Depop or Vinted, if they’re looking for an active way to help save our planet and not contribute to climate change. It is definitely a safe way to enjoy retail therapy while being conscious and responsible even when getting the joy of buying clothes.

Sustainable clothing is definitely a favourable choice when buying trendy clothes. If you are desperate for a certain piece of clothing from a specific website, why not have a look on Depop or Vinted first to see if it is available to buy second-hand.

You could even pop to your local charity shop to fill the clothing sized hole in your heart. Charity shops often have hidden gems in them and have grown in popularity over recent years since fashion fans have become more responsible and knowledgeable about sustainable fashion. Statista reported that in 2020, revenue from charity shops in the UK amounted to £746 million.

Buying sustainable and eco-friendly clothing is saving the planet in so many ways. It’s important to remember that even when we are indulging in retail therapy, we should be enjoying it responsibly and thinking about the future of our planet rather than just a quick fix.


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