Our society is one that likes buying stuff. Often all in one go, as a collective ‘haul’.
It’s often not even stuff that we necessarily want, let alone need. The influencer community is definitely guilty of perpetuating this behaviour. I’ve lost count of how many haul videos I’ve seen where the haul-er already seems completely disinterested in what they’ve purchased. Most of the time they can’t even remember what half of the items are. It becomes all too apparent that they don’t really give a shit about the pile of items in front of them.
Hauls are reeled off one by one, day after day. Creators aren’t limited with a haul – you can haul anything. Any brand, any item, so long as there’s a lot of it. With more people “Hinching” than ever before, cleaning hauls are on the rise.
With the intense competitive nature of being an influencer, it seems that hauls are getting more extreme. People are dropping hundreds, or even thousands of pounds on products in an attempt to one-up the competition. Not to mention the average garment is only worn seven times before going to landfill.
I’ve literally seen a video where an influencer spent £4000 on clothing. Four thousand pounds. It all seems entirely unnecessary and, for lack of a better word, greedy. It’s an obsession with wanting more for less.
Like it or not, we’re a part of the ‘haul’ generation.
A haul is essentially a shopping spree. Someone purchases a large quantity of items and calls it a “haul” on social media. It’s especially popular amongst fashion and beauty influencers.
My issue with a lot of haul posts is that they’re entirely unsustainable and wasteful. No thought goes into where the products were produced, who made them, or how.
Most hauls feature unsustainable companies like Primark or Pretty Little Thing because they’re affordable; meaning you can buy more. The end goal is to buy as much as possible, often for as little as possible.
I don’t put all the blame on the individual influencers for haul culture. Yes, they’re making the decision to produce this content and share it with their audience, but the issue is deeply rooted within our society.
We are pre-dispositioned to want more, and to think that we absolutely need a lot of stuff. Take Black Friday for example; people go crazy and purchase items they normally wouldn’t look twice at just because it’s cheap. Shopping has become a natural reflex, or a way to simply pass the time.
The entire point of a haul is just to say “look at all this stuff I bought”. But what happens after the video ends?
It’s more than likely that a lot of the items get returned to the brand it came from. It’s common practice for influencers to return their hauled items. Brands are even catching onto it. ASOS have been closing down accounts who make frequent returns, much to the annoyance of many.
In 2018 I first came across the idea of the “anti-haul”; the far more sustainable alternative to the good old-fashioned haul. The idea is that people state all of the things they won’t be purchasing and why. I think this is a great way to get people to think about the things they’re purchasing, and to encourage buying with intent.
It’s easy to get caught in the cycle of over-consumption. I know first-hand how difficult it can be to ditch these practices. My big “thing” was online shopping – especially clothes shopping.
I once spent over £400 on ASOS. Just because I convinced myself I needed a new wardrobe. How much of that do I wear now? Maybe two, three items at most. The fact is you can’t get emotional fulfilment through buying material objects. That excited buzz of buying something new doesn’t last forever, and when it ends you’re back at square one.
Before I make a new purchase, I’ve started asking myself the following…
I’m not trying to sit on my soap box and proclaim all product hauls and the people who do them are “bad”. But it’s definitely an unsustainable practice.
Companies try to convince their audience that they need these items. But what happens when you question where they came from? How were they made? Who made them? Just because it’s cheap, doesn’t mean it’s worth owning.
The more I research sustainability and over-consumption the more things like product hauls seem to irritate me. It just seems stupid to promote such an openly wasteful practice.
I'm Elen Mai, the brains behind Welsh Wanderer and 20-something human biology student from (you guessed it) Wales! Welsh Wanderer is designed with the eco-conscious adventurer in mind. So stick around for tips & tricks on living sustainably.