We've all been there: the January sales existential crisis. You're clutching a neon pink PVC pinafore and you realise you don't even want it, let alone need it. You're tired, hungry, furious and sick of chasing sales. 

This was the "epiphany" that journalist Sophie White experienced in January of last year while shopping in the "maelstrom that is the Zara January sales". The "spiritual awakening" changed how she shopped and - crucially - how she thought of herself as a consumer. 

"Clothes were flying everywhere, people were very irate and angry, I was sweating profusely and I was mad for a bargain", she recalled on The Ray D'Arcy Show

"I would be a very commended sales shopper", she said, adding that she brought a six day old baby into the Brown Thomas Stephen’s day sale. 

"I noticed myself getting really irritated that I wasn’t seeing anything I wanted in this very bratty way."

"I realised 'this is madness. I’m in a frenzy looking for something I don’t even know I wanted, I could be absolutely certain I don’t need it'. And I left."

Sophie's decision came at an inflection point in fashion, with more people waking up to the incredible damage of fast fashion on the environment, not to mention the unhealthy fixation on shopping and bargains it can create in consumers.

It's also becoming clear that it's not enough to just recycle clothes, as 84% of recycled clothes end up in a land fill, while the average life cycle of fast fashion item is just 2.2 years.

A year later, conversations about "slow fashion" and reusing pieces that you have are becoming more mainstream, but work still needs to be done to cut fast fashion. Crucially, shoppers need to examine how they buy items, and why. 

"I definitely knew that fast fashion had put lots of pressure on loads of different sectors … but I hadn’t examined my own behaviour as a consumer", Sophie said. 

"I think that’s what we all are wanting to have, that fast fashion, isn’t it terrible but I’ll have a quick sneaky pop into H&M here, or I’ll buy from the Conscious line, which is a more sustainable-focused line. But we never really look at how we, the consumer, drives fast fashion." 

She also highlights "knee-jerk" shopping, the practice of buying something cheap on a whim and then not using it or wearing it once. 

Sophie started with not shopping for a month, which she said shows how severe her shopping habit was. After four months, she decided to keep going for a year, a milestone she's just passed. 

As for money saved, Sophie estimates it would be around €3,000, and that's with a trip to New York City, where - against all odds - she didn't fall off the wagon. 

As the saying goes, if you can avoid fast fashion there, you can avoid fast fashion anywhere!