Why the ‘See Now, Buy Now’ Model is Problematic for the Environment

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When was the last time you instantly bought something that caught your eye?

In today’s social media age, instant gratification rules our lives. “I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it” is the mantra on our lips ever since pop singer Ariana Grande popularized the lyrics in 7 rings. The moment we’re mesmerized by the art, craft, or beauty of a product is when we are likely to purchase it on impulse.

How Marketing Tactics Influence Our Shopping Habits

For nearly 50 years, the fashion industry has seen a two-season model dedicated to spring/summer and autumn/winter. These runway shows presented collections to the press and wholesale buyers, and the designers then took six months to produce the garments and distribute them for consumers to purchase.

It seems impossible to remember a time when there was a six-month-long lag between the collection being showcased on the runway and its availability in stores! At the time, this delay was seen to create hype and demand once items hit store racks. We would covet the clothes we’d been forced to wait for, save up for them and wear them for years!

Today, however, there are 52 seasons of collections. New styles are released every week, and to make new collections more appealing to young consumers so they can instantly shop and own them, brands came up with the ‘See Now, Buy Now’ model. This primarily e-commerce trend allows you to instantly shop for a new collection with a simple click on leading social media platforms. 

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Low prices, hard-to-resist deals, and free shipping make impulse shopping and the immediate gratification, irresistible. The impact? The impulsive shopper simply doesn’t have the same emotional attachment to things.

It can be tempting to give in to the desire to own something new or second-hand that you will hopefully enjoy using for years to come. However, in that split second of being mesmerized by a product and thinking of purchasing it, we tend to forget to consider if we really need it or not.

So, it’s no surprise that when people decide to “Marie Kondo” their wardrobes they find so much unwanted clothing. They don’t find joy because they had no emotional attachment to them in the first place.

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Buying it Today Won’t Help the Environment Tomorrow

Since we have become so accustomed to following trends and instant gratification, the ‘See Now, Buy Now’ model creates a false sense of urgency that intends to give us FOMO if we don’t get our hands on the limited-edition merchandise. In a world where millennials constantly seek newness, this sly persuasive tactic makes us forget whether we actually need it or simply want it. 

Countless hours of mindless scrolling can also create boredom and trigger you into making snap decisions. What’s more, if you buy something without thinking it through, you’re less likely to create an emotional attachment to it. And if you don’t love it, you’re more likely to dispose of it sooner, and its fate will be decided at the nearest landfill.

According to the Recycling Council of Ontario, the average North American throws out 37 kgs of textile waste yearly that ends up in landfills. Globally, 3 out of every 5 pieces of new clothing bought ends up in landfill within one year.

Whatever be the reason to throw away unwanted clothes, if they are ending up in landfills, we missed out on giving them a second life. Recent data from the Environmental Protection Agency shows that textiles can take up to 200+ years to decompose in landfills. Why should the environment and our future generation suffer because we got bored of a garment too soon?

If you buy less, you will produce less textile waste. Remember to think twice before you shop next—the future of our environment depends on it.

Written by: Shweta Gandhi

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