The joys of browsing online sales sites in pajamas

Sharon Stephenson is a freelance journalist who fled the city of Wellington for rural life on the Kāpiti coast three years ago.

OPINION: Maybe I was bored. Perhaps I had abused the sun or the wine too much; I had definitely had too much confinement.

The online shopping cycle never ends.

The online shopping cycle never ends.

Whatever the reason, last year – I forget which month, the last 24 went on like hot honey – I found myself mindlessly browsing websites looking for things I didn’t I neither needed nor wanted.

Like the nearly identical white shirt to the five already hanging in my closet, or the pair of wedge boots that looked nothing like the photo. There was a pleated silk skirt the color of a certain gin bottle, an adjacent cashmere scarf, and a wrist support for the RSI I probably contracted while visiting these websites.

By the time December rolled around, I had lost both my fight and my flight, buying just about anything the website’s algorithm suggested (to be clear, my mind wasn’t so broken that I slipped right on the synthetic lion wig meant to make my pup look like a big cat. And no doubt highly flammable).

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A bit of background: A few years ago I moved to a lifestyle block and started working from home. I happily adopted the uniform of tracksuits and Ugg boots and didn’t need the seven pairs of black slacks or the alarming number of party dresses I had somehow accumulated.

I even had a purchaseless year with which I smugly annoyed everyone. But then Covid hit and just like that I was back in the overdrive lane with my foot stuck on the accelerator.

A little more context: I’m a freelance writer, so my life hasn’t really been marked by excessive amounts of money. Nothing in my consumerist spree was expensive, which some would say would almost make matters worse – not only was I buying things I didn’t need, but I was also more concerned with saving money than saving the poor polar bears.

I’m not a total eco freak: I recycle, I carry reusable bags, and meat hasn’t touched my lips in years. I also love a good op-shop as much as the next person (finding the perfect item, in the perfect size at the perfect price is, in my world, like winning a gold medal, a Lotto and a Pulitzer in the same week).

But above all, I blame Big Oil, Big Farming and Big Transport for our environmental disaster and happily continue my climate terrorist ways.

Sharon Stephenson has no shame in shopping from home whenever the mood takes her.


Sharon Stephenson has no shame in shopping from home whenever the mood takes her.

I am clearly not alone: ​​data from the Aotearoa lockdown in 2020 revealed a whopping 73% increase in online shopping. It was a similar story in most places, with hours spent at home contributing $158 billion in U.S. online revenue in 2020.

Because as anyone who’s ever done it will confirm, there’s something deliciously lazy about browsing websites in your pajamas and then having items delivered to your doorstep, sometimes within days.

A friend, understandably unamused by my addiction to online shopping, kept sending me links to articles about melting ice caps, endangered species, wasteful packaging and what happens to the mountains of shit we buy, most of which end up in landfills.

There can’t be many people alive who don’t know that fast fashion isn’t good for the planet. In fact, it is one of the most polluting industries in the world, generating up to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. But I still went shopping.

In the end, it was the postman who stopped me in my wasteful momentum. “You get a lot of packages,” she said, with what may or may not be an eye roll. Yes, I shyly admitted, vowing to only buy things from now on that, in the immortal words of Marie Kondo, truly spark joy.

And if anyone needs a white shirt or a pleated silk skirt, I’ve got a few.

Sharon Stephenson is a freelance journalist who fled the city of Wellington for rural life on the Kāpiti coast three years ago.

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