How the World’s Obsession with Haul Culture Is Harming the Planet

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"Clothing hauls are all over our 'For You' page. Here's why haul culture isn't doing the planet any favors—and how to avoid it."

Clothing hauls have completely taken over our feeds. People are intrigued by what other people are buying; when you see something that catches your eye, it’s hard not to add it to your cart.

Unfortunately, the rise in clothing hauls isn’t just bad for your budget—it’s also bad for the planet. And the trend doesn’t seem to be dying down anytime soon.

Clothing Hauls by Numbers

clothing haul

TikTok has quickly become the most popular platform for fashion hauls. The hashtag #clothinghaul has more than 1 billion views, and #haul has 13 billion views.

Shein, an ultra-fast fashion retailer, is notorious for TikTok hauls. The #sheinhaul hashtag alone has over 3.8 billion views. These fast fashion hauls typically feature more pieces than most due to the low cost per clothing item. Jodi Opuda‘s multi-part Shein haul featured 91 articles of clothing.

Shein hauls aren’t just popular—they’re critical for Shein’s marketing strategy. Shein hosts an affiliate program for influencers who can get paid 10-20% commission to post hauls and direct viewers to Shein’s website. Partners can even earn cash bonuses monthly by sharing promotions.

But TikTok doesn’t monopolize fashion hauls. A quick search on Instagram reveals over 2.6 million posts with the hashtag #haul. Unsurprisingly, Shein and Zara’s hauls are two of the most popular brand-specific haul hashtags, with about 287,000 and 58,000 posts respectively. But #thrifthaul surpassed both with over 504,000 posts.

Haul videos may be associated with retailers like Shein and Zara, but thrift hauls are also becoming increasingly popular. The hashtag #thrifthaul has 910 million views on TikTok. Some of these posts also feature tags like #nofastfasion and #sustainableoutfits.

Considering the popularity of these hauls on both Instagram and TikTok, can fashion hauls ever be sustainable? Or is every additional view on those videos doing more damage to the planet?

How Clothing Hauls Harm the Planet

You probably know buying fast fashion can be incredibly harmful to the planet. So it’s no surprise that buying these items in excess for clothing hauls is just making matters worse.

According to a a study on the environmental impacts of fast fashion, the fast fashion industry creates approximately 92 million tons of waste and consumes about 79 trillion liters of water each year. As a whole, the fashion industry is responsible for one-third of all microplastics found in the ocean and produces 20% of global water waste

As concerning as these numbers are, most of fast fashion’s waste comes from post-production. Textile waste, which consists of unused textiles and old clothing, almost always ends up in landfills. In fact, 85% of all textiles wind up in landfills every year—the equivalent of one garbage truck loaded with clothes being dumped in a landfill every second.

clothing haul

How are fast-fashion hauls contributing? The rise of the clothing haul has exacerbated the industry, encouraging producers to create more. The amount of clothing produced every year has doubled since the year 2000. As demand rises, so do production rates. And the more these companies produce, the more waste they create.

While #thrifthauls may sound better than fast fashion, over-consumption is never good for the planet. Purchasing pre-owned clothes is a great way to maximize what already exists, but thrift hauls still perpetuate haul culture. Buying more clothes than you need can create waste when you eventually discard those clothes. It also depletes the availability of clothes in thrift stores, which many people rely on.

No matter how you spin it, haul culture is a product of over-consumption, which is inherently unsustainable.

How to Steer Clear of Clothing Hauls

clothing hauls

With fashion hauls in every corner of the internet, it can be difficult to avoid seeing them daily. Falling into the haul rabbit hole can make it tempting to participate in the trend. So how can you avoid getting sucked in? We have some tips that will help you shop—and scroll—more sustainably.

1. Remove It from Your Feed

If you’re finding yourself enthralled by haul videos and itching to add trending items to your cart, do your best to get them off your feed. On TikTok, long-press on the video and tap the “Not Interested” button. While it might not remove these hauls completely, the app says doing so will “show you less of that sort of video in the future.”

On Instagram, either unfollow or mute accounts that are constantly showing hauls. To mute someone, go to their account, click “Following,” then Mute. You can choose to mute either their Stories or Posts, or both. The best way to avoid haul culture is to get it off your feed!

2. Don’t Buy What You Don’t Need

Wondering whether you need that item? It’s hard to say no to cute clothes you see on your feed. But a great metric for deciding whether you need something or not is asking yourself: Do I even have somewhere to put it?

Are your drawers overflowing? Are you running out of hangers? If so, you probably don’t need more clothes. If you can’t wear what you already have, donate your old clothes, give them to a friend, or sell them online.

3. Thrift Responsibly

When you need to shop, thrifting is a great option. Just be sure you’re going about it responsibly. What does that mean? Only buy what you need.

It can be easy to over-purchase at a thrift store because the clothes and accessories are usually cheaper than they would be at popular retailers. But remember that over-consumption at a thrift store is still harmful to people and the planet.

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Clothing hauls are all over our 'For You' page. Here's why haul culture isn't doing the planet any favors—and how to avoid it.

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