Going green doesn’t have to be more expensive
There is a perception that being environmentally responsible costs more money, and that most people will naturally choose less expensive options over “green” alternatives. But such a perception is misleading. If costs of a product are truly taken into account, the green option is nearly always the economic option.
Recent articles report the unsurprising results that people make choices based on economic impacts, not necessarily on environmental ones. The New York Times featured an article describing the “fickleness” of consumers for green products. And in a study on the outlook for green vehicles, such as hybrids and EVs, JD Powers and Associates note that for most consumers “cost matters more than the environment.”
The reason that some green products are more expensive is that pricing mechanisms do not accurately reflect the true cost of the product. For example, organic farmers need to charge more for their produce compared to industrial farms. But industrial farms require huge nitrogen inputs. Chris Goodall shows that that the pollution cost of nitrogen is three times the value of the crop yield. So how does industrial farming get away with such an uneconomical activity? According to Goodall,
The gains are private (accruing to bankers and to farmers) while the losses are socialised (accruing to taxpayers and citizens). Put another way, the application of fertiliser onto farmlands is far too cheap because its price does not recognise the full costs of using it.
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But even with such problems with pricing, there are many examples where being green does saves money. Lynn Jurich, president and co-founder of SunRun, coined the term “pocketbook environmentalism” to describe the trend of making choices that are both good for the environment and good economics, such as car sharing or energy efficiency. Here at Tainted Green, we’ve shown ways how being green can save green, including 27 ways to lower your utility bills.
If it’s a choice between saving money and saving the environment, the environment will lose. But when prices truly reflected the costs of products and services, being environmental and being economical is the same decision.