Eco-friendly products are, no doubt, a tad pricier than your regular household staple. For example, you can buy a pack of plastic straws and still not spend more than a dollar whereas a metal straw may cost you somewhere between $5 to $10. This thought scares most people and thus, shuns away from going green.
However, you might be wondering: is it really costly to protect the environment with buying only green products? We think that going green shouldn’t be costly, but we do agree that eco-friendly products are indeed more expensive. So, what’s going on? Can we do something about it?
We wrote this article in the hopes of shedding light on how green products work and what you can do to lessen their costs, if ever.
- 1 Why are eco-friendly products costly?
- 2 Why won’t many people support eco-friendly products?
- 3 Can buying expensive eco-friendly products save the environment?
- 4 Conclusion
Why are eco-friendly products costly?
Most of us are probably guilty in some way or another when avoiding an eco-friendly product based on its price versus the regular product. Many people often think “why should I buy this product that is costly when it does the same job as the regular product?” and that isn’t helping companies. So, what makes eco-friendly products costly? Here are some common reasons:
Shipping costs and methods
Putting fragile items in a purely paper-based box or packaging is asking for trouble when delivering to humid, rainy, or snowy weather versus plastic containers. No person in the world wants their parcel to be destroyed but no one wants to live in a world filled with dumpsites that are clogged with non-sustainable plastic, right? It’s a difficult decision.
The main goal of using sustainable shipping packaging is to lower the carbon footprint, which will help the environment, especially with global warming. However, the concern with that is the higher shipping costs since manufacturers would have to think of better ways to ship an item without getting it torn apart during delivery while still being sustainable overall.
Certifications from governing bodies
Companies will tell you how difficult it is to get a certificate from governing bodies. Not only are they strict and meticulous but they are also costly since many of these certifications are done yearly. That’s not all – even local governments require companies to comply with environmental laws, which is yet another additional cost to them.
Such requirements include having to separate mixing ingredients to avoid putting organic ingredients into non-organic ones, as well as to have allergen-free products. Fairer labor practices, as well as improved facilities, are also an additional cost to these companies since they are required by the governing bodies to obtain certificates.
Organic and sustainable farming
An apple produced without pesticides and chemical fertilizers is, no doubt, beneficial to the environment, but pricier for the consumer. It also takes more time for the farmer since they have to do manual efforts to keep the pests away versus using a handy-dandy pesticide.
That’s also why organic products don’t usually come in bulk. Only a select handful are chosen since they were produced using organic and sustainable farming. Not using chemicals is good for the rivers but the farmers need to double their efforts – and time is money. Therefore, this fee is passed onto the consumers, who then become reluctant to buy their organic apple.
The same is true for pet food – while typical grocery brands contain meat by-products (which are crushed bones and the like), purer dog and cat foods not only have better ingredients (e.g. chicken or beef is the first ingredient) but also tend to be in more sustainable packaging and are processed more responsibly.
Low demand from the market
Many people want to help the environment but only a few of them mean what they say. Not everyone is environmentally-conscious, especially if you live in a country with economical problems. In such countries, people prioritize essentials more than they would for an eco-friendly bar of soap processed without harmful chemicals.
But here’s the catch: a common reason why eco-friendly products are low in demand is mainly because of the price, so it’s an endless cycle!
Why won’t many people support eco-friendly products?
Now that we know why eco-friendly products are costly, what exactly makes people less likely to buy them? Here are possible reasons:
They’re usually double or triple the price of regular items
As mentioned above, many people aren’t so keen on buying an eco-friendly product mainly due to the price. They would rather spend their money on products that do the same job and get more of the said product versus only a few of an eco-friendly product.
People nowadays are practical, especially with the ongoing crisis of the world, so they tend to prioritize just having this and that rather than identifying its contents if it’s organic/sustainable/eco-friendly or not. Therefore, the average person in the grocery will just grab the cheaper dishwashing soap or dog food due to their lower price.
Most of them aren’t readily available
In today’s world, not everyone has access to eco-friendly items yet, especially in not-so-developing countries. In the city, you’ll have a plethora of selections for sustainable groceries whereas, in poor sectors of the place you live in, people have little to no choice but to go with instant foods or microwavable items.
Unless your home is near a farm, the sea, or any natural resource, getting organic and eco-friendly products is usually tricky.
Organic products tend to expire quickly
There’s a reason why organic products expire quickly: they don’t contain as many preservatives as regular items do. When in excess, preservatives are not only bad for the health but also the environment. However, the sacrifice is that you can’t stock them up in your pantry or fridge and expect them to work well after a few days.
Lack of campaign
Even when there are already campaigns for no-plastic packaging, many people still don’t have enough knowledge or awareness of the benefits of going green with products. They still see it as a scam, especially if the company is more inclined to green capitalism rather than helping the environment for real, which is a sad truth for some companies.
Can buying expensive eco-friendly products save the environment?
Yes, but minus the expensive part. However, with that said, living with a house full of eco-friendly products won’t necessarily make a difference. Here’s why:
You could be prone to green materialism
Here’s a scenario: you buy 100 eco-friendly tissue rolls (e.g. coreless) just to show off to your friends or to feel less guilty about hurting the environment. But in reality, do you need 100 tissue rolls?
Buying less is a more sound option than buying too much of a green item. Sadly, many companies nowadays use the idea of going green as a marketing strategy. Instead of helping Mother Nature, they’re more bent on earning cash from the eco-friendly trend. The ending of the story is that you buy more products than you need.
If you truly want to go green, less is more. With the example above, buying 100 eco-friendly tissue rolls versus only a few tissue rolls of a non-eco-friendly product won’t make much difference when it comes to saving trees. A solution for this is to consider having a bidet system in your toilet to lessen tissue consumption in the long run.
We’re not saying it’s wrong to buy a lot of eco-friendly products – we only mean that you should buy what you need at the moment. Impulse buying for trends is something that costs us more so before you shop, always make a list of what you truly lack in your home to avoid spending extra.
Products are on a case-to-case basis
In most Asian wet markets, buying fish, meat, and organs has been traditionally done with plastic because paper can’t be used for them. Not everyone has a stainless steel container (which is expensive) or a glass jar (which is fragile and bulky for trips).
While paper bags are certainly great for handling dry goods from the supermarket or grocery, they aren’t the best choice for the wet market. And with that in mind, the wet market is more common in certain countries due to their ease of access to farms and fisheries.
If you truly want to do your part to the environment and still have a great meal when you get home, consider carefully planning your market trip. Only buy what you need to avoid having to resort to excessive paper or plastic bags. After all, wet produce will expire quickly, especially if the humidity is high, so stocking up is not a very good idea unless you need it for a long trip or emergency.
As a whole, while green products are indeed costly, there are many ways to help protect the environment without breaking the bank. Green products like stainless steel straws and containers are indeed more expensive but they are an investment that will lessen repeated purchase of non-sustainable plastics.
In the same way, green materialism is possible, so you should avoid it. Companies should make eco-friendly products not merely for marketing products better but to create a “net green” situation, in which they’re giving back to the environment. Going green isn’t a profitable trend – it should be a dedication to Mother Nature for future generations to live better and without fear.
Name: Rebecca Tarvin
Discipline: Integrative biology
Degrees: B.A., Biology, Boston University, 2010; Ph.D., Biological Sciences, University of Texas at Austin,2017
Rebecca Tarvin is broadly interested in integrating studies of natural history with molecular genomics and phylogenetics. Specifically, she aims to elucidate causal genetic mechanisms underlying novel traits, characterize phenotypic diversification at macro and micro-evolutionary scales, and identify factors that promote and constrain biodiversity.
She also likes to write about eco-friendly lifestyle and other material alternatives that are eco-friendly, aside from other ways to save Mother Earth