Are Zero Waste Products More Expensive?

One challenge with buying eco-friendly products is the cost factor. 

Up front, many zero waste products cost more than their everyday 'high street' equivalent.

Understandably, this can make many potential customers shake their head and immediately turn away.

£9 for deodorant? £5 for a single sponge?

"Yikes.." they might think.

Over-consumption and convenience

The first thing we need to remember is that in recent decades, we've grown used to spending less than we actually SHOULD for certain products, like food and clothing.

You can thank factory farming and fast fashion, with their animal and human rights violations for that.

Your salmon shouldn't be that cheap. And your brand new, trendy jumper shouldn't cost £2.99.

Both of those items still carry a high price tag, but the burden of the cost has shifted away from the consumer and onto anonymous faces behind the closed doors of industrial barns and factories, sometimes several continents away.

When you first re-expose yourself back to local products made with high quality ingredients, it can be difficult to initially accept a higher price point even if you recognise that the products are high quality, more environmentally friendly and meant to last a long time -- or even a lifetime.

Behaviour changes

What we need to remember in the immediate moment of examining the price tag is the behaviour change that accompanies the switch to more sustainable products.

Products that we normally think of buying every few weeks or once a month, like toothpaste or deodorant, generally last much longer if they use high quality ingredients.

Let's go back to the example of the £5 kitchen sponge:

While £5 may seem like a lot for a single sponge, you'll be quick to see that you will actually save money with the higher quality sponge over time.

The shop's Tabitha Eve reusable none sponges last for a minimum of one year. If you regularly buy a 6-pack of those yellow/green plastic sponges at your local pound shop for £2 and those only last you a couple of months, the reusable sponge is going to save you money in the long run.

Other products, like toiletries, might not save you money but you'll probably spend around the same you normally would.

For example, if you normally buy a £3 deodorant and it lasts you around 6 weeks --  the cost will likely come out to around the same as most of the plastic free deodorant in the shop, which lasts for a minimum of 3 months.

Even better, the shop's bestselling Cacao Pow Deo Bar lasts around 6 months. It quickly sells out whenever its re-stocked, because many customers that try it once have bought it again - only having to apply it every other day.

Higher quality

The beauty of investing a little bit more up front in zero waste products also means that you're investing in higher quality, all-natural ingredients for your body and household.

It also helps re-frame your mind to a more minimal lifestyle, helping you to curb mindless consumption.

Do you really need to keep three or four deodorants on rotation? Invest in one high quality, plastic-free deodorant and use up every last drop before buying the next one. 

That being said...

With that being said, artisanal products are often made in small batches and so they can still sometimes carry an overall higher price tag.

If a consumer is in a position where they simply cannot afford the higher up front cost (because that is a privilege that not everyone can manage) it is totally okay to buy the products they can afford, even if now that still means products in single use plastic.

Remember, plastic pollution is not the sole fault of the consumer. We simply don't live in a society that allows our lives to be completely plastic free today. 

At the end of the day, a 'zero waste' lifestyle is about reducing our waste output in whatever way we can.

If that means simply reusing your very old plastic containers or making old clothes last, that is equally as positive for the environment.

There are many ways of 'doing your part' that doesn't have to focus on buying a new product - simply supporting a small business (by sharing their social media posts with your friends) can help a lot as well.

And with keeping cost in mind -- cost vs. longevity is always considered when new products are brought into The Weekly Shop.

The shop makes sure to stock the 'entry' items that almost anyone could pick up, and afford, like the £2.5 bamboo toothbrushes from SaveSomeGreen and our £2 stainless steel straws.

Looking to the future

Hopefully as the market demand grows for the zero waste lifestyle, local British makers can start to manufacture larger batches of their plastic free products, which should drive down costs.

A win-win for people and the planet.

What are YOUR thoughts on the cost of zero waste products?

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