THE HIGH OF YOUR FIVE-MINUTE BUY

Thought Piece by Scarlett Buckley exploring how addictive behaviours impact our need for newness.

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Developing countries are caught at a cross roads; constantly wanting and consuming more but never satisfied. We are slaves to our addictive behaviours; behaviours fuelling the industries that destroy our planet. If we are ever to understand and change our consumerist ways, then we need to accept and understand the psychology behind them. It is the age of the millennial, with us more knowledgeable about staying healthy than ever, from kombucha tea, to manuka honey, we are fascinated about health benefits they provide. So, the question is asked – do we have the same emphasis on what we put in our body as what we put on it?

“We are slaves to our addictive

behaviours; behaviours fuelling the

industries that destroy our planet.“


As fashion is an unhealthy rollercoaster; it can impact our mental health just as smoking can affect our physical health. It can psychologically manipulate us into spending money we don’t have, change our perceptions of beauty, and effect our eco guilt.

The problem lies with fashion being powerful and obsessive. It has similar addictive properties that underlie the fabric of social media. The parallels between the two relate to the concept known as behavioural addiction. The problem with this addiction, is that you are compelled to keep purchasing, however, will this ever lead to satisfaction? Have you ever bought something and experienced an overwhelming sense of happiness, and then 5 minutes later this euphoria has evaporated? Know the feeling? Well you are not alone, as you have experienced the ‘hedonic treadmill (hedonic adaption)’ theory. This is the idea that whatever you buy, your happiness will always return to a baseline level, regardless of how much you indulge in your purchases.

The problem is that whilst you indulge, you are fuelling an industry that emits 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon emissions into the atmosphere and the 245 million items of clothing which is left to landfill. We cannot fight our psychology, like you cannot run backwards on a treadmill, but what you can do is use your consumer habits to look for companies that put the planet before their profit.

The hedonic treadmill is built right into the very complexity of our DNA, and so it is a difficult concept to confront. One of the main issues driving our urge for the next best thing is that we live in a world of comparison. The obsession with seeing, how the other half live, from shows such as ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians,’ to, ‘Million Dollar Wedding Planner’ fuel our delusions that their lives are normal, and that is how people live. However, no one is an exception to the treadmill, and the millionaires seen are not omitted from their own happiness baseline.


“Have you ever bought something

and experienced an overwhelming

sense of happiness, and then 5 minutes

later this euphoria has evaporated?”


Human nature is buried within us and so our behaviours, and neurological reactions will always have an unconscious element. As we are at a critical point of climate change, with the earth in a fragile state, we need to be conscious of our behaviours, change our cognitions and fight the manipulations the marketing world puts to the test. The grass may always appear greener on the other side, however if we continue, there will be no grass on either side.

Ella Grace Denton