Why you need to stop shopping online during coronavirus lockdown

8 April 2020, 17:26

Boris Johnson announces tough new measures to tackle Coronavirus

Sophie Thompson

By Sophie Thompson

Here's exactly why you should be thinking before you spend lockdown splurging on new clothes - and it could be costing you your health...

Being cooped up in your own house social-distancing with nothing more than Netflix to keep you company is the perfect opportunity to do a bit of online browsing - and, more often than not, for clothing brands to spam your email full of deals and too-hot-to-miss discounts to boost your mood while you're locked away. *sobs*

But is it really safe to be ordering online during a pandemic?

READ MORE: Harry Styles is being called out over “problematic” new coronavirus merch

Government guidance says we should only be buying essentials right now, and most of your non-supermarket stores have shut temporarily, tempting people online - and of course, it's your personal choice. Coronavirus is incredibly contagious, and can have serious implications for more vulnerable people, so we need to work together to stay indoors and flatten the curve.

However, it's worth considering three things before you start clicking add to cart on that new jumpsuit thinking you're doing society a favour.

Coronavirus can live on plastic packaging for up to 72 hours.
Coronavirus can live on plastic packaging for up to 72 hours. Picture: ASOS via Instagram/E!

Do I really need this item and will I need it when all of this is done?

The chances are, you're bored. And there's also a good chance you're being sucked in by the deals that are keeping our favourite brands afloat right now. But think to yourself, do you really need new clothes to...sit at home? There's people in factories representing fast fashion brands being kept busy packing orders that can't work from home, and they're the people being hit hardest by the effects of our indulgence.

While some of us have the privilege of being able to carry on in the safety of our humble abodes, a lot of workers are required to carry on going to workplace - even if it's not essential. It has been noticed by many that the already-problematic-yet-cheap brands of the clothing industry are carrying on with business as usual, by asking staff in factories to simply "observe the two-metre separation rule".

Fast fashion brands are also trying to keep business afloat by deeming themselves essential services, meaning workers are still being forced to drive to and from for full shifts to keep paying the bills, regardless of the risks they're exposing themselves to. Remember, if there was no demand for these roles, these people would be at home, safer.

Not easy when you're working to pack hundreds of orders per hour, right?

Am I putting myself or someone else at risk?

No offence, but probably. And if you end up in hospital over a 20% sale on ASOS, you're going to feel some kind of responsibility, and there's a good chance it didn't start with you.

Harmful bacteria can live on plastic packaging for up to 72 hours and 24 hours on cardboard (although scientists suggest this is the safest packaging you can use in this instance), so if the person packing your order has COVID-19 without realising, it gets passed onto the delivery driver, the post office clerk, the post man, and then you.

There's also no science on how long coronavirus can live on fabric, so definitely wash your clothes when they arrive. Was five people falling ill worth it?

Can I buy this from an independent business?

Unless it's something very specific you're after, then probably. Shopping via an independent business or seller is safer if you simply can't hold back on the retail therapy, so it's time to start digging around on the likes of eBay and Depop.

Sellers on the platforms are still being briefed with safety guidelines to minimise risks, but as their businesses are usually almost entirely ran from home and often include second-hand items, there's a lot less people handling the product, meaning less germs. It's also good to support the people impacted during these times, right?

If you're just after an impulse purchase, a more charitable approach to shopping might be worth considering - especially if it's just for a Zoom call. Don't worry, us too.

Either way, it's important to remember that health comes before wealth, and unless it's essential, it can probably wait until restrictions are lifted and life resumes. Who needs a new dress to wear to their living room, anyway?