We’ve all been shopping stupid for years, snapping up “bargains” in sales, seduced by advertising, loaded down with stuff to fill our homes, thinking it will make us happy. But ultimately it doesn’t. It costs us and it costs the earth.

©Patrick Cho / Greenpeace

Shopping has environmental impacts. We calculated that clothing sales during China’s 2016 Singles Day online sales produced 258,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.

Well, I’ve got some good news for you. Join the Greenpeace Consumer Revolution and start shopping smart and living sustainably!
Because we like to arm ourselves with knowledge before we cook up a campaign or rustle up some recommendations, we surveyed Greenpeace supporters in Taiwan to get a grip on how environmentally-aware consumers were shopping and wanted to shop. Almost 4,500 people responded to our survey, and here’s what we found out:
  1. Clothing topped the list for most impulsive buys. 45% said they most often bought clothes on impulse, followed by cosmetics, food and then personal electronics.
  2. About half of the clothes in their wardrobes never see the light of day! (How much of a bargain are they if you never wear them?!)
  3. Holiday was a dangerous time for buying things! Greenpeace supporters said they weren’t easily swayed by advertising promotions or celebrity endorsements – just 18% said they might be influenced normally but when they were on holiday, 45% said they had bought things they did not need.
  4. Less is more. While advertisers are busy trying to persuade us that buying more will make us happier, 46% of our respondents said they agreed that shopping less would make them happier, while 70% said they planned to cut down on their shopping list and 60% said they would consider repairing something before going out to replace it.

What’s clear from this survey is that is our supporters show an obvious desire for change, and that means more potential power to our Consumer Revolution!

So how can we shop smarter when we’re surrounded by tricks tempting us to part from our money. We’ve compiled a list of the more common traps so that next time you go shopping, you’ll be too smart to fall for them!

1: Buy one get one free

This is the oldest trick in the book! But it doesn’t mean you’re buying something for half price because you probably only really want one, so the other one will stay in your cupboard unworn, or if it’s food it will linger in your kitchen long after the best before date.

2: Gift boxes

This trick is a favourite of cosmetics and skin care companies. You think you are getting lots of different products for a bargain price, but it’s a trap to get you to buy things you never planned to buy in the first place. Open it up and you’ll find lots of products that you don’t want and won’t use. You’ll have wasted your money and have lots of bottles cluttering up your shelves to boot.

3: Available only for a limited period

This trick is to get you to buy now before you have time to decide whether you want or need it or not; because if they gave you time to think, you’d realise actually you don’t really want it.

Rather than chasing sales and promotions, just shop when you need something. Don’t waste time clicking on offers on online stores – go for a walk, read a book, spend time with friends, cook a delicious meal instead (maybe, with a glass of wine!). We promise that you’ll be happier and you and the world will be healthier!