Downshifting challenge: Looking back

It’s three weeks since I began my downshifting challenge and now the experiment has come to an end. It’s been interesting trying to save money by moving down a brand in three different areas of my shopping, while also trying to maintain a certain standard of quality.

I was impressed by how much difference shifting down a brand in the supermarket made to my grocery shopping bill – almost a 50 per cent discount and with very little discernable difference in quality between the products. While I have moved down a brand on many individual products before, I had never downshifted the whole of my grocery shopping at once in this way and it was interesting to see the results.

It was also a useful exercise to try to apply these principles to other areas of my shopping, such as clothes and makeup, to see if downshifting could work in much the same way as it does with grocery shopping. However, on balance I feel that doing so produced mixed results really compared to the supermarket experiment.

In the supermarket it was easier to switch to an intermediate brand from a more expensive brand and experience little change in quality. But with clothes shopping, if you shop at mid level stores such as BHS, M&S etc. and decide to move down a brand you really have to go to a cheap discount store where there may be a dramatic difference in price and probably quality. Plus food items don’t have to stand the test of time or the ravages of a washing machine in the same way that clothes do. However, perhaps if you normally shop at a more expensive store then, if you switch to a cheaper clothing chain which still sells well made clothes, it’s possible that you might not see such a big difference in quality.

We also saw a big debate here on the blog regarding the ethical dilemma of buying cheap clothes which might be produced by sweatshop workers earning just a few pence an hour. It was interesting to read your views on this issue and it has certainly got me thinking more about what I buy, where I buy it from, who may have made it and in what circumstances. Before the recession, many people had become concerned about where their food comes from and I think this awareness is slowly spreading to our outlook on clothes shopping. The difficulty is that it seems much harder to source ethical clothes easily at the moment than it does organic or ethical food.

As for makeup, it was fun and a real eye opener trying out new products and comparing them to more expensive ones. I think I would be prepared to downshift regularly on items like eyeliner, lipstick and eyeshadow but not so much on foundation and pressed powder.

All in all, I think downshifting is a great idea but that perhaps it’s easier to apply the principles to certain areas of life than others. What do you think?

Do you downshift your shopping? What other areas of life could you apply the principles of downshifting to? Leave a message and let me know.

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10 Responses to Downshifting challenge: Looking back

  1. Christine says:

    I\’m still convinced that the first thing to do is to decide whether we need to buy or whether we just want to buy. If we decided that need was more important than want then it\’s possible that there would be less requirement for sweatshop clothes. On the other hand we should not be afraid to support low wage economies if the conditions of work are right.

  2. Christine says:

    I\’m still convinced that the first thing to do is to decide whether we need to buy or whether we just want to buy. If we decided that need was more important than want then it\’s possible that there would be less requirement for sweatshop clothes. On the other hand we should not be afraid to support low wage economies if the conditions of work are right.

  3. Kerri says:

    i think you have a very valid point Christine – deciding between want and need. If you buy a pair of boots for £80 and wear them 80 times, they are better value overall than a cheap £10 jumper that is only worn once. I don\’t mind downshifting on some items in order to \’upshift\’ on others where I think it appropiate.

  4. Kerri says:

    Of course, its nice for us to be able to debate – there are some that simply don\’t have the income to enable such choices, where in fact, the choice to down or upshift becomes a luxury in itself.

  5. Piper says:

    DJ\’s mum has this method of measuring items she\’s bought by the number of time she\’s worn them, just as you suggest, Kerri. She divides the price by the number of times worn. I think it\’s a good idea.

  6. Bill says:

    We have an extreme "catch 22". If we purchase any suspicious sweat shop food, clothing, or any other items, we support the sweat shops. If we find it possible, despite the limited label intelligence, to boycott these products, the sweat shop victims will be the first to suffer from this boycott/embargo.

  7. piper says:

    I think you\’ve hit the nail on the head there, Bill. If we don\’t buy their products, surely they will lose their jobs?

  8. Bill says:

    Possible that we will never know the full truth. Sweat shop victims are completely inarticulate, totally devoid of adequate education even in basic literacy & numeracy. They are equaly incommunicado, not even \’leccy, or light, certainly no \’phone, goggle-box or internet. They have no means, or hope, of joining us wih their 2 pen\’orth on here. The industry have no intention of revealing the truth.

  9. Bill says:

    Christine darling, it all boils down ter your need v. want, & a healthy measure of m & m. Mek do & mend is by far the best solution fers us all, where ever possible. I knew the entire Soviet, & E. Block, including E. Germany (DDR), where I lived fers so many years. I found no Sweat-Shops, only Work ter Rule, with copious m & m. . . . . continued

  10. Bill says:

    Most Gents underpants were a fantastic luxury, provided as a gift from his spouse, made from an old, clapped out, Gents shirt. Simple, a new shirt had ter be "engineered" before the underpants could be sorted!.Black Market was far too expensive fers most, although there was a small market/trade in "knock-off", which, fers obvious reasons, was extremely clandestine.

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