The joys of browsing online shopping websites in your 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. Maybe I’d had too much sun or wine; I’ve definitely had too much lockdown.

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The cycle of online shopping never ends.

Whatever the reason, last year – I forget which month, the last 24 have flowed together like warm honey – I was mindlessly scrolling websites for things I neither needed nor wanted.

Like the white shirt that was almost identical to the five already hanging in my closet, or the pair of wedge heel boots that didn’t look anything like the picture. There was a pleated silk skirt the color of a certain gin bottle, a cashmere scarf and a wrist brace for the RSI, which I probably picked up from visiting these websites.

By the time December rolled around I had lost both my fight and my flight and bought pretty much everything the site’s algorithm suggested (to be clear, my spirit wasn’t broken enough that I swiped right at the faux lion wig , which I wanted to make my pup look like a big cat and undoubtedly flammable).

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Some context: A few years ago I moved to a lifestyle block and started working from home. I gladly adopted the uniform of sweats and Uggs and didn’t need the seven pairs of black pants or the alarming number of evening dresses I had somehow accumulated.

I even had a buy-nothing year that I smugly bored everyone with. But then Covid came along and just like that I was back on the overconsumption lane, foot stuck on the gas pedal.

A little more context: I’m a freelance writer, so my life hasn’t exactly been marked by excessive lumps of cash. Nothing in my consumerism was expensive, which some argue almost makes it worse – not only did I buy things I didn’t need, I was more interested in saving money than saving the poor polar bears.

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

But most of the time I blame Big Oil, Big Farming and Big Transport for our environmental catastrophe and happily continue my climate-terrorist ways.

Sharon Stephenson is not ashamed to shop at her whim from home.


Sharon Stephenson is not ashamed to shop at her whim from home.

I’m clearly not alone: ​​Data from Aotearoa’s 2020 lockdown showed a whopping 73 percent increase in online shopping. It was a similar story in most places, where hours spent at home accounted for $158 billion in online revenue in the US in 2020.

Because, as anyone who’s made it will attest, there’s something deliciously, magically lazy about surfing websites in your pajamas and then having the items delivered to your door, sometimes within days.

A friend who was rightly not amused by my online shopping addiction kept sending me links to articles about melting ice caps, endangered species, the waste of packaging and what’s happening to the mountains of junk we buy from them most of it ends up in landfills.

There can’t be many people 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, causing up to 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. But I still shopped.

In the end it was the postman who stopped me in my lavish tracks. “You get a lot of packages,” she said with an eye roll, maybe not. Yes, I do, I admitted embarrassed, vowing to myself from now on I would only buy things that, in the immortal words of Marie Kondo, bring genuine 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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