A lot of people point out the fact that what’s keeping them from making sustainable choices is the cost that they come at. Which in its entirety is a fair argument to have, however what this lacks is a wide perspective to look at this issue with. What as consumers we need to realise is that the market has made us so used to low costing products that seeing goods being priced above the standard rate seems as if we are being cheated on. Its time for us to take our fist judgment spectacles off and analyse this question- why are sustainable products more expensive after all?
Starting off with the Consumers,
One of the most basic rules of economics, the law of demand states that producers will produce only if there is demand. The consequence of which is higher competition and lower prices. The simple fact that there isn’t enough demand for sustainable products makes them expensive. It takes away from them the various economies of scale that their traditional counterparts enjoy. And let’s say that it is not a new company but and old, huge, and rich company that wants to make sustainable products cost wouldn’t be a problem, right? Well I wish it was that easy. If there aren’t enough people wanting it companies won’t make the move. Why would they when they are making millions selling plastic and other cheap products. If consumers demand for more sustainable products, there is nothing stopping any and all companies from going green. Hence why, we need to be vocal about our choices and be mindful about them.
The next question we ask, why arnt manufactures and producers opting for making sustainable products?
For producers like farmers, even holding third-party certifications, such as organic or fair trade, are not cheap. Monthly checks and obligations make them expensive which is why many of the producers look away from producing organic.
Secondly, organic produce requires more care and time as it is not fuelled with chemicals. These factors go on to make organic produce costlier than the alternative.
For manufacturers, a sustainable production chain results in a direct increase of cost. Why is that you ask? Well, to make the packaging sustainable and eco-friendly a lot of producers go for glass jars, which cost as much as 100 times more than traditional plastic packaging. Sourcing of organic produce as we mentioned, is higher as well, hence we see why sustainable products become more expensive even at the factory level.
Another cost to keep in mind is that many sustainable companies vouch for ensuring a safe and considerate working environment. Even providing these basic rights to a person which lacks in the industry today, comes at a cost. A cost we are not used to paying as we are all in the habit of buying cheap products that come at the cost of the lives and sacrifices of its makers.
Coming to another factor in the process that drives costs up, Transportation
Well simply making the choice of using glass bottles instead of plastic raises the price of packaging and also makes the product heavier thus driving up the cost of transportation too. The challenge also lies in volume. If a sustainable company is selling refillable products, then it simply won’t be selling as much as it’s single use counterparts meaning that they won’t gain any discounts or deals on their shipping orders. Even using sustainable packaging like bamboo or literally anything other than plastic would drive up cost significantly.
As consumers it is hence necessary for us to support these choices as when we do this, we support fair labour practices, plastic free packaging and show the corporations of the world that we want things to change.
A sustainable choice might end up costing us slightly more today however what we need to keep in mind that they are an investment, these are products meant to last. They help us avoid single use plastics, hence saving us money in the long term. Apart from the cents in our pocket, they save our planet, our innocent animals. Hence I ask you again, are sustainable products truly more expensive?