With the speed that trends go through social media and YouTube, I’m probably late to game talking about this concept, but I love the idea nonetheless. If it’s not a thing anymore, I’m reviving it. Or at least the intentions behind it.

For those familiar with social media content, you’ve probably heard of and/or seen a fair share of hauls. People showcasing what they’ve recently purchased because for some reason, the random things other people buy is really interesting to find out. It’s easy to get sucked in. So much so that you forget that these “haulers” are spending lots of money on items they most likely don’t need.

On top of social media content creators going out on shopping sprees for some extra views and followers, now companies have hopped on the bandwagon. Turns out, social media personalities, once they develop enough of a follower, can be influential in what others will purchase. Although a YouTuber, blogger, or content creator is just an average person gutsy enough to put themselves out there, consumers really value others’ opinions. I mean, if we are reading the reviews of products online and choosing products based on others’ recommendations, the correlation makes sense.

So now companies are pulling all the stops when it comes to the products they send content creators. If you’ve ever typed into YouTube “PR unboxing,” you’ll be in for a surprise. Not only do these people receive lots of makeup, clothing, games, books, and whatever niche a person may focus upon, but the packages themselves are ridiculously intricate. The boxes are their own form of advertising. And with PR products often comes sponsored content, a new form of a commercial that is often less obvious to the audience.

I understand that making these sort of deals with companies is crucial for content creators to make any sort of living from what they enjoy doing. I know if I had the chance to be paid to write a blog post, I would certainly be enticed. However, from this reliance upon consumerism, we’re losing the essence of what social media originally was. YouTube alone was just a bunch of people using lousy webcams and talking about whatever interested them. That world has expanded to professional filming equipment, millions of dollars, and lots of unnecessary books.

When I heard about the concept of an “anti-haul,” I was intrigued. Basically, it’s the same setup as a normal haul, but people discuss what they don’t plan on buying and why. Which, in a way, is still a type of product review or critique, but I see the intentions very differently. It promotes people to analyze the messages they take in on a regular basis and actually gauge their ties to material belongings.

I’m not asking us all to become full-blown minimalists, nor am I insinuating to never buy anything ever again. But when we look at our collections of clothing, shoes, makeup, video games, etc., what are we personally gaining from that? From a past bargain that you’ve never touched since? Ten shades of lipstick in essentially the same color? A closet overflowing with fast fashion and pairs of shoes and handbags? A closet full of video games you’ve completed through once and will never play again?

There’s a distinct difference between investing in a hobby or passion project you’re especially passionate about, and cluttering up space with impulse purchases that may be unnecessary and impractical. The marketing ploys stores and companies use to lure us in lead us down vicious cycles of excitement, indifference, and sometimes regret.

So it’s refreshing to hear somebody say what they won’t be buying and why. Certain items and trends that just aren’t worth putting your money toward. Most likely, they’ll come and go anyways. Fueling a market always asking us to buy and spend keeps corporations (and piles of waste) growing. It’s just not a sustainable lifestyle to lead.

A dollar is essentially a vote. What we put it towards is reflection of what we value. Not to judge those who love some retail therapy (the thrift store is always calling my name), but the need of instant gratification blinds us from saving up funds toward purchases that add meaning to our lives. Not always needing the newest piece of technology. Not running out to Forever 21 every paycheck. Personally, I’d rather save up for products and experiences that I know I will love and benefit me. I’m willing to steer clear of major fast fashion and department stores and paying more for my small makeup collection if it means I’m supporting small local businesses and good causes. I’m aware of the impact of my choices and want to do my best to be wise and responsible about them.

An “anti-haul” is probably just another one of those passing trends we won’t remember in a few months, but let’s not forget how “consuming” consumerism is (bad word play, but still). It sucks you in. Advertising and PR know exactly what they’re doing. The strategies they use work. But once we can step away from possible spending instincts and look objectively at products, we might decide instead to choose the more sustainable option, or just save some money for something you might really care about. That simple but powerful decision is a step toward living more sustainably and consciously.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie


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