'This is ingenious. Marvellous. Thank you queen' – the gamechanging hack to curb impulse shopping

I had to put this hack to the test...

Blue built-in shelves with plants, books and vases
(Image credit: Future PLC/Bee Holmes)

We've all gotten carried away with impulse shopping, and we can't blame ourselves – that's what retailers try and encourage us to do. So when I discovered this TikTok trash can aisle hack (bear with me!) I was all ears.

With Amazon Prime Day in full swing and winter sales on the horizon, it's more important than ever to really take a beat and consider your purchase. Otherwise, you'll be adding yet another thing you don't actually love all that much cluttering up your home.

So, what's the trick I hear you ask? And what on earth has it got to do with bins  anyway?

Blue built-in shelves with plants, books and vases

(Image credit: Future PLC/Carolyn Barber)

The hack, shared by TikTokker @olivebranchcottage, works by forcing you to look at the item in question out of the context of the styled displays and matching items surrounding it.

'Do you find yourself using decor and then when you get it home you really don’t like it as much as you thought you did?,' she asks in the video. 'When I go shopping all these colours and pretty displays overwhelm me. But before I buy anything I take it to the trash… meaning the trash can aisle in the store.'


♬ original sound - Olive Branch Cottage (Morgan)

The idea of the bin aisle is that it's so uninspiring that if something looks good in that setting, then it'll work just about anywhere. 'If I like it in the trash can aisle then I will buy it because I know it’ll be pretty anywhere,' she explains.

I've been putting this to the test over the past couple of weeks and I was shocked by just how much of a difference it made. Some items I thought were cute became all kinds of 'meh' out of context among the kitchen bins, which forced me to admit that they probably weren't special enough to spend my money on, or that I could probably pick up something for cheaper (or free – hello Facebook Marketplace).

No trash can aisle? The TikTokker suggests looking for a completely empty shelf. Either way, please do remember to put the item back where it came from if it doesn't end up in your trolley – we don’t want to create extra work for the store’s employees.

Yellow and blue rubbish bins on shop shelf

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's not just me that the hack's made an impression on, either. The TikTok currently has more than 1.4million views, and the more than 1,000 comments are full of people praising the idea with messages such as: 'This is ingenious. Marvellous. Thank you queen'.

‘You may have just changed my life,' says another commenter.

‘I am truly bamboozled by how different they look,' another message read about seeing vases in situ and then amongst the bins.

One person pointed out another reason this hack may be so effective. ‘And if you aren’t willing to carry it all the way to the trash can aisle you probably don’t want it that bad.' I can personally attest to this one, too.

Red and blue kitchen bins beside wire waste paper basket

(Image credit: Future PLC/Ben Anders)

But what about online shopping? I've been forcing myself to visualise the items in the least inspiring setting I can think of or, to stay on theme, amongst the bins. It's not quite as literal but I found it surprising by how this did make me pause before purchase, and often, stop altogether.

It's also worth noting that, whether in person or online, taking a few minutes (or longer) to think about the item and to work out if you have a specific home for the piece or not.

And, lastly, while this comment doesn't help curb impulse shopping, it did make me feel seen: ‘I wonder if this concept would’ve helped my dating life in my 20s?’

Thea Babington-Stitt
Managing Editor

Thea Babington-Stitt is the Managing Editor for Ideal Home. Thea has been working across some of the UK’s leading interiors titles for around 10 years.

She started working on these magazines and websites after graduating from City University London with a Masters in Magazine Journalism. Before moving to Ideal Home, Thea was News and Features Editor at Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc and Country Homes & Interiors.