When it comes to living sustainably, you get back what you put in. When it comes to sustainable products, you get what you pay for.
What does sustainable mean?
Let’s start with the definition of sustainable products. These are products that don’t deplete natural, non-renewable resources. Neither do they harm the environment. However, sustainable products should provide social and economic benefits. Therefore, products made from ethical materials that implement sustainable practices in a socially responsible way.
Are they really more expensive?
There’s a general perception amongst many people that sustainable products are more expensive than cheaper alternatives. And for the most part, this is true because products that are more expensive to create are usually more costly to buy. Hold on, as we’ll get to the reasons why that is.
However, this doesn’t mean that sustainable products have to be unaffordable.
Many people struggle to afford the basics. Therefore, some sustainable products can become unaffordable if the price tag is too high.
However, in many cases, it’s cheaper to buy something more expensive of a higher quality that will last longer than a more inferior low-priced product that you will need to replace more often. There’s a well-known saying – ‘Buy cheap, buy twice’, otherwise known as a false economy.
Usually, when you buy cheap, somebody pays an additional price. That could be people in the supply chain treated unjustly or our planet’s longevity, which means we’re all paying.
It’s important to know the distinction between cheap and inexpensive. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting a good deal. We all love one, right? It’s the ‘what’ you buy and ‘where’ that can make a difference. The goal should be to find the right product from the right place and get the best possible deal.
Reasons to buy sustainable products
Let’s take a look at some valid reasons why it pays to buy sustainably.
1. Ethical supply chain
Firstly, let’s consider the supply chain of your product. From manufacturing to distribution, steer clear of companies that use slave labour or force workers to operate in poor conditions with low pay. Sustainable brands implement fair working practices. They also care about the health and wellbeing of their diverse team of employees.
Product tip: Compare cheap chocolate brands that use forced labour with artisan chocolate like Islands that support workers and the environment.
2. Quality materials and ingredients
Check the ingredients and materials for harmful chemicals that could damage you or the environment. Quality products are usually made to last longer and function more effectively.
Product tip: Compare flimsy single-use disposable face masks with multi-layered reusable face coverings made from cotton that will last several months.
3. Packaging and parts
Who else throws their arms up in exasperation when they buy a seemingly sustainable product wrapped in single-use plastic? Waste management across the entire supply chain of a product is vital to reduce plastic pollution and our carbon footprint.
When you’re ready to dispose of your product, remove the parts and recycle responsibly. The same applies to packaging, where some components may be recyclable and others not. If you’re not sure how a product will be packaged and shipped, it’s wise to ask the retailer to reduce plastic packaging.
Product tip: Compare synthetic-based deodorant aerosols with natural deodorant packaged in reusable and recyclable tins.
After reducing, reusable is the most sustainable way to maintain a circular economy. Such products last longer and therefore will generally be cheaper in the long term. Think quality materials and ingredients that may cost more. Also, consider buying second hand for some products.
Product tip: Compare single-use menstruation products with sustainable period products such as a reusable, non-toxic menstrual cup that can last up to 10 years.
Buying handmade usually means you’ll be supporting an independent business. You’ll also be purchasing something unique that somebody has put care and attention into making. As well as encouraging craft skills, the carbon footprint of handmade products can be much smaller. This is because there is no need for large factories or long-distance distribution. You can also bet that every time you buy handmade, your maker will do a happy dance!
Product tip: Compare paraffin candles with hand-poured soy candles that burn for longer and have a more potent natural fragrance.
In conclusion, before you buy cheap, think twice. Was the product made ethically, using non-harmful materials or ingredients? Is the packaging excessive and unsustainable? Are you likely to have to replace the product sooner than you expect? Does the seller have core values beyond making money?
Finally, be aware of companies that greenwash – those that deceptively market themselves as sustainable. Labelling a product as compostable doesn’t mean it is. Unfortunately, there are plenty around, so do your research, don’t be afraid to ask questions and do not be misled!
We think buying sustainable products is worth it. Still not sure? Have a browse of our online shop and check out the quality, eco credentials and very affordable prices.
The Jolly Turtle supplies eco-friendly bespoke and pre-packed kits for events, travel, hospitality, and lifestyle, offering a simple and convenient way to shop for all your plastic-free essentials.