From the Forums: Why do "Green" products cost so much?


goldwave84 is asking about the eco-economics of why green costs so much green.

From detergent to face cream, the green choice is just so much more expensive. Is it because of cost of these materials are just higher?

A cursory glance around some shopping sites at laundry detergent shows that the green detergent we use, Mrs. Meyers, comes in at $.20 per fluid oz, while another green product, Seventh Generation, comes in at $.14 per fluid ounce. However, All 2X Concentrated Laundry Detergent comes in at roughly $.09 per fluid ounce. Quite a difference for families on a budget with a lot of laundry. For some, this likely makes going green a harder decision to make.

mikebeavis points out that economics of scale and hidden costs have some role to play:

Economies of scale refers to the principle that you can do things cheaper when you're making 100,000 widgets instead of 62 widgets. There are cost-saving things and specialized labor/machines that can really cut down on production costs. Efficiency improves over time with large numbers. Since green isn't yet mainstream, many of those cost-cutting advantages haven't been adopted by the manufacturers.

Hidden costs are things that a company doesn't pay for when it makes its product - usually things like pollution, contributions to landfills, etc. These things happen but it's "free" to let them happen, and costs money to keep them from happening. People who manufacture truly green products likely have a social conscience and will capture some of these hidden costs by using non-polluting energy or implementing a system-wide reuse/recycle campaign. It costs money and that is passed on as part of the product's cost.

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My wife and I always try to buy organic or green products. There are a number of ways you can buy green and save some green at the same time. First we buy in bulk and we buy on sale. If you have the storage space it makes more sense to have 3-6 months of cleaning supplies than to keep going out to the store to buy one item when you run out.

Make your own! My grandmother always made her own window cleaner using distilled water and vinegar.

Use less. Even though our laundry detergent recommends a capful, we have a super efficient front loading washer that is able to wash clothes with less soap. We also buy products in concentrated form and simply add water to it to make it go further. Sometimes the more something costs, the more you pay attention to your own usage.

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