May 06, 2009

Going green shouldn't be this expensive

I've increasingly become jealous of those folks that are green - you know, the ones that drive a hybrid, bike where possible, use green products in their home, eat natural and organic foods, and use less energy. I want to do all those things but just can't seem to get it all together and it's not because I don't know how. To be honest there is one major factor holding me back: cost.

Why are environmentally conscious products so darned expensive? It seems like everything is at least double the price. It makes it every difficult to make the right choice especially in this economy.

For instance, on Monday I decided that I would go to Whole Foods rather than my local supermarket to pick up a couple things (this is all part of my whole better me project). Here's the receipt:

- milk - 3.49
- grapes - 4.99
- cheese - 4.99
- salad - 4.99
- conditioner - 2.39 (this was the cheapest available)
- baking soda - .99
- vinegar - 2.99
- cantaloupe - 2.99
- kids vitamins - 4.99

Some of these items are about 50 cents to one dollar more expensive than my regular grocery store and individually who really cares, right? But, add everything up and we're looking at $10-$15 (after taxes etc) more for one bag of groceries. And, as you can tell, I just picked up some random things - it wasn't my monthly trip to the store. So, I can only imagine what that'll cost.

I'm sure an economist would explain that it's supply and demand and market forces that are making these products a little more expensive than others and I would be encouraged to continue purchasing and demanding these products from all stores and eventually prices would go down. Great...thanks for the explanation and encouragement but what I need in the meanwhile is more money if I want to make the better choice. It's time to make green affordable for us all because I want be green too!

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Justice Fergie said...

I hear ya. In fact, I avoid Whole Foods like the plague. Ever since I tried to buy snapper there and it was $19.99/lb I knew they were smoking something and never went back (EXCEPT for the strawberry shortcake cake of course. Let's be real).

But I think the trick to being "green" is (1) not to label it - it increases the pressire and (2) make the SMALL changes.

So, instead of going to Whole Foods, go to your regular grocery store and shop in that organic section. Or go to your local farmer's market. Trader Joe's or MOMs are good options too. Bring your own reusable shopping bags instead of using paper or plastic. Stop drinking bottled water and buy a filter for your tap.

Also, read the comment from My Life In the Sunshine to my post on this topic:

Good luck!

Momaroma said...

Ditto - just decided I wanted to start composting both because I feel guilty every time I throw perishables into the trash, but also because Princess has started lecturing me on "we should be composting". When I went on line to price the compost bins, they were all between $200 - $300 (the ones worth purchasing that the raccoons won't eat through etc. etc.). So what was my solution? I told Princess I will give her $1 everytime (almost) that I throw something perishable into the trash. I figure by the end of the summer we should have saved enough money using this system to buy the compost bin. Unbelievable.

Shanta Hayes said...

I know you work, and that you've got kids, but there are a few simple things you can do to help the environment and your pocket, and they take only a little extra time, and very little cash. I make my own glass cleaner, laundry detergent, and instead of buying air fresheners I boil spices, or herbs or burn candles. There are tons of websites out there for green cleaning tips/recipes etc. But you could basically get by with standards you probably already have around the house. I've just learned vinegar is the BOMB! and its cheap as all get out. I bought 2 gallons at SAM's for about $3.00. It's great for cleaning, killing weeds, disinfecting, getting rid of fruit flies....
Ivory soap is also a standard in our home, as is baking soda.

Justice Fergie made some great suggestions, I don't go to WF because they closest one to me is 20 minutes away, (with good traffic, and they are um, shall we say a bit cost prohibitive. I take my own bags when I go to the store, and try to buy local produce whenever possible, the farmers markets are great for that. I don't do the bottled water, but I gotta get the hubby off it :) The girls and I have water bottles, it's also a way to encourage them to drink more water.

Momaroma, composting doesn't even have to be that expensive. I have a bin I made in my backyard. Its a medium sized rubber container with a lid, that I drilled 1/8 inch holes in on all sides to allow for ventilation. To be even greener and a little more DIY go for building one out of scrap lumber. Loading pallets make great forms, and you can usually get them free just by asking a business, that gets them frequently. You build a square frame that is open on one side, and then you start loading in your materials.

Just remember you don't have to spend a lot to be green, you can start with little things and work your way up.

Justice Ny said...

Thanks for the encouragement and the tips.

BTW, I actually used vinegar today to help shampoo the carpet and it worked well.

BananaBlueberry said...

Just my perspective:
My father spent his entire career as a biochemist with the FDA- working with food-

His take on 'organic foods' is that most times it is just a label, at the worst times it means that the food has not been attended to and tested for this and that (soil, etc)... to keep it 'in it's natural state'...
as a result- I buy Giant brand produce, lettuce etc-
ALL fresh food has to meet certain standards and also- A LOT of 'brands' all buy from the farms anyway...
Sorry, I've just grown up with this - ALL THE TIME :)

Good post !!

Mama Jenn said...

Depending on where you live you can try the local food co-ops or local farmers.

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