Like many other countries in the world, overconsumption is a prominent trend in China. Some 41 percent of mainland consumers qualify as shopping addicts, and more than half have clothes with tags still on them at home, a recent report showed. The report warned that this unsustainable lifestyle poses a threat to the environment.
The report, released by Greenpeace on May 17, surveyed 1,800 residents of 14 cities across the Chinese mainland, all aged between 20 and 45. The survey found that over half of the surveyed consumers overspend and make purchases beyond their means. These consumption patterns are fueled by a variety of motivations, including the desire to feel confident.
Specifically, those with unhealthy shopping habits are most often aged between 35 and 45. They shop more than once a month, spend one to three hours shopping online per day, and most cannot go more than a week without shopping.
The problem is exacerbated in the Chinese mainland when social media and e-commerce platforms post photos of people in nice clothes, forming a sort of social network for shopping, said Deng Minlin, project director of Greenpeace's East Asia office.
Some 72 percent of respondents said they experience a desire to buy clothes when they see fashion-related photos and illustrations online, and 49 percent said they bought things they didn't need simply because celebrities or other high-profile figures were featured in promotions.
The average amount of money respondents spent on shopping stood at about 1,000 RMB per month nationwide, and the average amount of time consumers spent shopping was two hours per day.
The report showed that 73 percent of respondents said nice-looking clothes make them feel more confident, while 42 percent said they expect to receive kind comments when they wear clothes from popular fashion brands. Yet, hand in hand with this desire for new items comes the fact that many people own 60 percent more items of clothing than they actually need. Shoes follow a similar trend, with people owning on average 41 percent more pairs than they require.
“Clothing manufacturing doubled between 2000 and 2014, as the fashion industry boomed. But it has also added more burden to the environment. In 2015, the global fashion industry consumed nearly 80 billion cubic meters of fresh water. It released nearly 1 million tons of carbon dioxide and 9,200 tons of waste into the environment. Overconsumption does not necessarily bring joy to consumers, but it definitely brings harm to the earth,” said Deng.