We all know that the world is in trouble, that plastic waste is out of control, that disposables have had their day and that there are many fantastic alternative eco-friendly products out there on the market but… How many times have you looked at the price and asked why are they so expensive? We’ve all been there (yes, me included when I first started out on my eco journey) and it is a comment I still see a lot on social media platforms when a sustainable product is shown. I get it, it’s a consumerism culture shock but I want to break down why eco-friendly products are so expensive and hopefully turn your mindset around a little, so make sure you stick around to the end…
Ethically and Sustainably Sourced
Ok, let’s start with the obvious one. Eco-friendly products (true eco ones) will be made from materials that are both ethically and sustainably sourced. In order to obtain these raw materials a higher price will be paid to those who are farming the land and following sustainable practices. We’ve all heard the term ‘you get what you pay for’ and this is so true for sustainable products. You are paying for the correct procedures to be taking place with little impact on the earth or to the workers (a little more in this in a mo).
These sustainable products are naturally, really good quality. Take materials such as organic cotton or hemp for example, these will have been carefully tended to with zero pesticides used and handpicked by workers to ensure that what you receive is safe, gentle on your skin (and your baby’s/children’s) and will last you for years to come. No cheap plastics, chemicals or short cuts taken to mass produce these items.
Ethical Working Conditions and Pay
The likes of your fast fashion brands do not give an ounce of care to the well-being of their workers inside their factories. Shein, Boohoo, H&M, Mango and Forever 21 have all been in documentaries, news reports and come under investigation for their awful working conditions in recent years. In 2013 the Rana Plaza building which was used to make many of these types of fast-fashion garments, collapsed due to structural failure killing approximately 1,134 and injuring around 2,500. When we purchase cheap products this is the outcome. The employees are forced to work in unsafe and often dangerous conditions all whilst being paid a terrible wage. This tragedy is now known as the deadliest factory disaster in history. In history! In the 21st Century!
Eco-friendly products will be made by employees who will be safe, have good working hours and decent pay. And so, your product will be priced a little higher to ensure all of these standards can be met.
Correct Waste Disposal Practices
If these above unsustainable companies do not care about the people who work for them, you can be sure that they do not care about the environment either. With no official waste disposal practices in place, it is common to see rivers of colours around the factories of India/Bangladesh – the dye used in clothing. Unsustainable companies will not use offcuts, be actively reducing their plastic waste or offsetting their carbon. In contrast, an eco-friendly company will be doing all that they can to dispose of waste products safely and correctly, to reduce and reuse waste and to offset any carbon they create. When you buy their products you will be helping to maintain and improve on these practices.
Not Made Abroad
Another factor that can affect the price is the fact that the product hasn’t been made cheaply abroad but has been lovingly made, sometimes handcrafted (hours of work), right here in your home country. And here we have employment laws, working conditions laws and minimum wage all in place.
Using recycled materials, paper, natural fibres, compostable and biodegradable packaging all comes at a cost but a truly eco-friendly company will always opt to use these over cheap virgin plastics that damage the earth.
Many of the eco-friendly products we look to buy are reusable ones – reusable nappies, cloth sanitary pads, reusable wipes, menstrual cup, cloth sandwich bags and so on. The great thing about reusables is that they can be used over and over again for years to come, however, they do come with an upfront cost. Take reusable nappies for example, it is estimated that you will need to spend around £200-£300 in order to have enough of a collection to use them full-time on your baby. When you look at it like that it seems pretty hefty doesn’t it? But what many people fail to take into account (because they walk away in shock!) is that once these are bought they can be used up until your child is potty trained. And after that, you can use them for your next child and the next one after that if you choose to have more babies. Once your family is complete you can either pass these on to a friend or family member OR you can even sell them on and make some of your money back.
If we compare these to single-use nappies, you could well end up spending up to £1200 over the course of the years it takes for your child to start using the toilet. And you will repeat these costs for any further children you may have. So, you see, many eco-friendly products will cost you more initially but are proven to be far more cost-effective in the long run.
Cost of Eco Certification
Some companies will need to pay a fee in order to be assessed and obtain particular eco certifications to show that their products are in fact sustainable, ethically made, cruelty-free, vegan, B Corp and so on. This is perfect for you though because you can clearly see that you are not being greenwashed.
Lower Consumer Demand (at the moment)
Right now, eco-friendly businesses are still in their infancy. It is most definitely an industry that has picked up momentum in recent years but there is still a way to go and with a lower consumer demand they have to cover their costs by charging that little bit more to you. And of course, the best way to help with this is to shop sustainably and encourage others to do so.
So, there you have it, a lot of reasons as to why eco-friendly products are more expensive but having read all of this I would encourage you to change the narrative here and start to ask instead why are some products and clothing out there are so cheap? I think many of us have been challenging the wrong side, don’t you?…
If you enjoyed this post you can follow more of our life, opinions and antics over on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Plus feel free to come and join in with my parenting group ‘From One Parent to Another’ on Facebook.
If you’d like to contact me you can either leave me a comment or drop me a line via my contact me page.
For other topics similar to this one check out these suggestions below…