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Become Sustainable For Yourself, Not The Environment

November 20, 2018

The environmental crisis has been gaining traction in recent time. As awareness of the severity of the situation increases there are more calls to action than ever. Through news networks, social media channels, peer pressure and political policies, the message is inescapable: drastic steps must be taken to avoid catastrophic changes to the earth. While this message is true, it focuses entirely on the single outcome of preventing the predicted changes to earth. It does not address the immense personal and immediate impact of buying sustainably produced products. As a result many draw the conclusion that making a switch to sustainable products is an expensive sacrifice. These conclusions are wrong. Coincidentally the values and standards of a company with sustainability at its core are the same required to make the best products. This article aims to disprove the misconception that switching to sustainable products is a personal sacrifice. To do this focus will be drawn to three areas: quality, price, and health.  

In the age of mass production and fast fashion poor quality has become normalised. We consume knowing that what we buy will be spent in an allotted time. We expect our clothes to last a season. We accept that our technologies seem to be designed to specifically last a few years or until our next upgrade is due. Repairs have been made difficult and expensive to encourage a throwaway culture that produces returning customers to buy the latest product. Companies producing sustainable products stand in opposition to the consumer culture. Sustainable products are made to produce as little waste as possible. To achieve this end, sustainable products are made to last, often a lifetime, and they are designed to be easily repaired. It is therefore common that sustainable products are of a superior quality to non-sustainable products, and come with a longer warranty as well as the ability to repair the products.

It is true that sustainable products often have a bigger price tag than competition. As discussed above, however, sustainable products have longer life cycles than unsustainable products. While you may pay a greater up-front price for a sustainably produced item there will be fewer, if any, replacements of the product required. In the long run, then, you will buy more of the same item from an unsustainable producer and cumulatively spend far more over your lifetime than if you buy a single sustainable product. To buy sustainably is to avoid lifetime instalments on your duffel bag.

It may well be that some people are not concerned with the quality of the products they buy. It may be convenient to need to buy new products on a regular basis because it allows them to keep up with trends. To keep up with the demand of a consumer culture, however, producers often take troubling steps to ensure the highest yield or production output. For example, most non-organic cotton growing makes use of glyphosate, a herbicide found to be carcinogenic. There are endless other examples that could be referenced here. It is true that organic farms do still use pesticides in the growing of their products. These farms, however, are held to account by regulatory bodies which do not allow the use of chemicals that pose serious risk to the public health or the environment. It is clear that buying sustainable products from producers who participate in practices free of harmful chemical use could play a significant role in decreasing the risk of a myriad of health problems.

Most accept their role in saving the planet. We acknowledge a collective effort is required. We dutifully recycle, use re-usable shopping bags, have buckets in our showers, and the list goes on. We consider becoming environmentally friendly a burden. Too often, however, we do not consider the tangible personal benefit of switching to sustainably produced products. Sustainably produced products are of a higher quality, they cost less in the long term, and reduce your risk of health problems - they are better for you in every respect and that is why you should buy them.