When shopping in a store or scrolling through products online, I can’t help but notice that eco-friendly products are almost always more expensive than traditional products. I want to know why, so I did some research to find out.

Eco-friendly products are more expensive than traditional products for a few main reasons.

  1. Items such as high-efficiency washer and dryers are more expensive upfront but save money in the long run.
  2. Demand for eco-friendly products is not as high as traditional products, yet
  3. Fair labor and ethical practices cost more.

Increased Manufacturing costs

From procuring raw materials to shipping the final product, almost all steps of the manufacturing and production process of eco-friendly products cost more than traditional products.

A few reasons for this are:

  • sustainable materials cost more to grow and manufacture
    • reputable third-party certifications, such as organic or fair trade, are not cheap
    • organic materials are more expensive to grow, partly due to the use of alternative means of pest control, instead of using chemicals
  • A fair wage for laborers is an expense many eco-friendly companies will accept and honor
  • Based on the facts above and other considerations, it just takes more time to produce an eco-friendly product, and time is money

How to increase the demand for eco-friendly products

Let’s begin with a simple economics principle. Don’t exit or fall asleep! This will be quick, I promise!

The Law of Demand states: All things being equal, as the price of a good increases, demand decreases; conversely as the price of a good decreases, demand increases. 

This is true for all types of goods and services, including eco-friendly ones. An increase in demand will reduce the price for a product.

The simplest way to increase the demand for a product is to purchase it. Pretty straightforward, right? 

Whether you choose to buy a green product, let’s say a reusable water bottle, from a small Etsy store, or from a line of eco-friendly products from Walmart, your money is supporting an environmentally conscious product and not a harmful one such as disposable plastic water bottles.  

Your purchase will tell the manufacturer (small or large) that you support eco-friendly products and if enough people feel the same way and also purchase green products, they will put more money into increasing production and in turn, you will see a decrease in price, eventually (yes, it is going to take some time).  

As well, as demand increases for eco-friendly products, and decreases for traditional toxic products, the production of eco-friendly products will increase and toxic products will decrease. This will result in the consumer having more choice for green products over non-green products on department store shelves.

To sum up, the more consumers purchase eco-friendly, environmentally conscious products (increasing demand), the more manufacturers will make of these products, subsequently lowering the price for consumers.

Why you should pay more for green products

You have two products in your hands, one eco-friendly, and one not. You are himming and hawing between the two because as much as you would like to be environmentally conscious and purchase the green product, it is $3.00 more than the traditional one and price plays a big factor in deciding which product you purchase.

Here is why you should purchase the eco-friendly product every time:

  1.  When you buy green, you support:
    • the use of sustainable materials
    • third party eco-friendly certifications
    •  fair labor wage
    • green practices, such as:
      • using recycled paper
      • writing with non-toxic inks
      • shipping with recyclable, minimal waste containers
  1. By purchasing eco-friendly products, you are telling the manufacturer ‘this is what I want to purchase, make more of it’ which over time will lead to more green products being produced and less toxic ones. This should also lead to a price decrease for the consumer (law of demand).
  2. When manufacturers see the consumer purchases trending towards more sustainable manufacturing and production practices, they will produce more products with sustainability and environmental concerns at the forefront of their operation. This is a win for consumers, the environment, and manufacturers.
  3. You are setting a good example for your friends and family. When your kids watch you buy eco-friendly products and inevitably ask you why you can educate them on the benefits of green products. As they grow older, they will be more likely to purchase green products themselves. Similarly, when friends notice your collection of unique eco-friendly products scattered about your house, they will comment on how cool they are and will want to know where you got them and how they can get their hands on some. Of course, you can explain that they are not only rad, but they also serve a really important purpose as well.
  4. It makes you feel good. Is this a selfish reason for purchasing green products? Possibly yes. But that doesn’t make it not true. When you purchase green products, you feel good about supporting an eco-conscious company, while drastically minimizing or totally eliminating the amount of toxic chemicals brought into your home. This feel-good feeling just may be enough for you to overlook the extra cash you shelled out for the superior (totally biased opinion!) green product you just purchased.

Bottom line: Buying an eco-friendly product made with responsible production practices will eventually lead to companies putting more money into this type of manufacturing and will, in turn, affect the price in favor of the consumer.

What happens when you don’t put your money where your mouth is

Despite my persuasive argument to always purchase green, you decide to take that $3.00 price difference and put it back in your pocket to purchase the non-green product.

You figured there are plenty of other people willing to buy eco-friendly, so your one purchase is not going to make a difference in the long term.

This line of thinking is just not true. It reminds me of The Simpson’s episode when Homer became The Garbage Man and his slogan was ‘Can’t someone else do it?’ ‘The garbage man can!’  Homer’s business model, while sounding good to the people of Springfield, was ultimately unsustainable, and was too much for one person to do alone.

Similarly, if you leave it up to someone else to purchase eco-friendly products, and you don’t help any chance you get, there will simply not be enough people to get the job done. Eco-friendly products will stay the same heightened price and toxic products will continue to rule the shelves of all the big box department stores.

Take control over your purchasing power, don’t pass the buck for someone else to do it.

So next time when you are thinking about taking the $3.00 savings over the green product, remember, ‘The garbage man can’t.’

Have no doubt: Your dollar matters.

Conclusion

Eco-friendly products are more expensive than traditional products, right now because demand is lower, and they cost more to produce.

However, fret not, you can change this. By purchasing eco-friendly products over traditional products whenever possible, you are indicating to manufacturers with their bottom line, that YOU want to see more of these products on the shelf.

Money talks, it is the universal language of business, so when manufacturers see their eco-friendly line growing more and more in the green, they will make more of it. Similarly, if they notice their traditional lines are doing poorer in the marketplace, they will make less of them and concentrate on the products that are making them the most money.

Eventually, we may just see eco-friendly products at the same price point as traditional ones, but it will take time and a conscious effort by consumers and manufacturers alike.

Please, let me know what you think. Do you believe green products will ever be the same price as traditional ones? 

2 Comments

  1. Chinmay

    How much years will it take, you think?

    Reply
    • Kathy

      While manufacturers are starting to clue in and make everyday products more eco-friendly, unfortunately, I think it will take many, many years for green products to become the norm and be priced as such.

      Reply

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