I needed a lip balm – a tiny and cheap everyday product. And I wanted it to be plastic-free, not only the ingredients but also the packaging. I was scrolling the web page up and down and searched for a suitable product. Something with four or more stars and aligned with my values. 11-14 dollars? Nope. 8 dollars? Gnnnhh, ok. Better be good – add to cart. Sustainable products are so expensive. Are they not? Why bother when everyone else is choosing the plastic anyway?
How did I decide that the price was tolerable, compared to those 2-7 dollars costing ones I had previously purchased from stores? How do we set the bar for the price? Would I treat the more expensive product differently than a cheaper one? It would have been so easy to buy what I had used to buy for years. Why didn’t I? Here’s what I learned.
I had previously decided to buy zero plastic cosmetics and makeup whenever possible. It is a choice I have made and a promise I want to keep. There are few products, such as mascara, with which I have to be a bit flexible, but things are going in the right direction. However, it would be easy to slip back to old habits. Just this once. This item is so tiny, it does not matter. We know this struggle with almost any lifestyle promise we have made, such as diets, alcohol, exercise…
My usual lip balm and the new choice had a price difference worth plus-minus one dollar per month. By buying the old one, I would have supported a big company that does not seem to have any plans to explore social responsibility from an environmental aspect. I would have also bought a piece of plastic that could not have been recycled in my city. Instead, it would have ended up in to landfill.
By purchasing my new choice:
- I supported the non-plastic cause, not only with the product but also with the delivery. The more we ask, the more we get.
- I got simple and natural, non-toxic ingredients.
- I respected my own ideology and habit change.
I also think that when items cost a bit more, we pay more attention to the product. Not only do we expect more quality, but we also care more for it. Think about such a simple item as a lip balm stick… We have one in a purse or bag, maybe one in the pocket, perhaps another on a nightstand and makeup bag. They like to disappear, literally roll away, and vanish. And that is not a big deal. We buy a new one. They are sold almost everywhere, and the price is low. But as I have this a bit more expensive special lip balm, I pay much more attention to it. It has its own spot in the bathroom, and it will not disappear. I am aware of it. Is it the same thing with socks, pens, hair ties… Those items keep on disappearing, and it is not such a big deal. We are not clearly aware of our products. They have not so much value. That is a path to overconsumption and waste, I believe.
So, what do you think? Are sustainable products so much more expensive? Or could it be that they have much more added value in them, and in a long run, they are actually the cheaper choice?
Awareness brings options, and when we have options, we can make choices. The choices we make can save the planet and us.