There is a perception that organic, or green, products are generally more expensive and this bothers a lot of people – why should these products only be affordable to an elite few? And why should we be penalized for wanting to be ethical and contribute to a more sustainable environment. So why are so many ‘green’ products more expensive?
Here on the Costa del Sol we know that many eco-friendly products come from abroad so shipping costs and import taxes inflate the retail price. The certification bodies which give the product its organic stamp of approval to ensure that it has been produced, stored, processed and handled in accordance with certain standards also adds to the cost. Organic crops generally offer up to 20% lower yields because farmers don’t use pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals to enhance production, and it is usually more labour intensive. With livestock the animals have better living conditions and higher standards are passed on to the consumer through higher prices. The volume of organic production is also currently a fraction of conventional farming so economies of scale do not yet apply to organic farming.
People often ask if it’s really worth the hassle and cost of buying green and as a working mum I know how hard it is to juggle children, work and home life. However, I also believe that we are entitled to a long and healthy life for ourselves and the planet and that we should take some responsibility for the environment around us. I investigated this further and made some comparisons. I discovered that some eco-products can actually work out more or less the same price as conventional equivalents, but the initial cost may be higher. Eco light bulbs are a good example, costing considerably more to buy but last much longer and in the end work out the same or even cheaper. This is an important point for consumers to bear in mind and applies to many products. It is also clear that a bit of shopping around can help if you are on a budget. Over time I have found a small selection of shops, farmers’ markets, local organic suppliers and online shops that help me buy a wide range of affordable goods. I’ve also found that clipping coupons, buying in sales or own-brands, joining co-ops or buying groups have also helped, as has buying seasonally, growing my own and simply being organized about the way I shop.
Has all the hard work been worth it? As far as food and household products go, I like mine without pesticides, fertilizers, synthetic and corrosive ingredients, thank you very much! I can also be content that I am minimizing the environmental price of my shopping, so, although I’ve had to do my homework and still find myself weighing up between what is essential for the family and what we can do without, at least it’s a step in the right direction. As they say, every little helps!
This post is also available in: Spanish