Unboxing the 'shopping haul'

Are shopping haul videos encouraging overconsumption?

Jay Barber
20th November 2023
Image credit: Unsplash @Claudio Schwarz
Shopping hauls make for easy content to consume. Viewers can enjoy the shopping sensation without spending a penny, or rely on the influencer’s supposedly trustworthy reviews and follow an affiliate link to make a purchase of their own. Though this might seem harmless, the rise of fast fashion in our consumer culture suggests that it’s time to go beyond the unboxing and examine the effects of these hauls on our society, our psyche, and our planet.

On an environmental level, it is well-documented that many fast fashion companies are carbon criminals with disastrous records of workers rights. Garments from these companies, while much cheaper than some sustainable alternatives, are often produced at a much lower standard and won’t last beyond a few wears. While a Shein shopping haul might include some stunning dresses, it’s worth considering the carbon footprint they leave behind. "Shop 'til you drop" shouldn't come at the expense of our planet.

Shop 'til you drop shouldn't come at the expense of our planet.

Although you could argue that one haul video won’t lead to the world setting itself alight, it’s important to consider that we, as viewers, are impressionable. When we see each others' lives through a screen, comparisons come easily and so too can feelings of insecurity. Influencers earn money by promising us that our life will be changed by buying a new coat, fridge organisers, a lipstick, or whatever product they gain commission from.

The unfortunate truth is that these videos pretend to solve a problem that was never there. It’s not that you, the average person, are lacking anything. But if you can be convinced that you were, then you’re an easy target to profit from.

The instant gratification of a haul is undeniable, but what can we do instead? Becoming a conscious consumer – of both the things you buy, and the things you watch online – is a fantastic first step. Embrace the charity shop. Put that jumper in your ASOS basket to see if you still love it in a week. Shop small, where possible. Re-wear the dress in the back of your wardrobe. And, trust me, those fridge organisers are more hassle than they’re worth.

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