The shopping world in 2016 may seem totally materialistic and impulse driven. But there’s good news: it’s changing. There can be enormous value in just pausing, taking a breath, and moving a small step back before you find yourself catapulted to the checkout.
The attraction of the last-reductions sale, or being drawn in to an extravagant "why-not buy", are alluring feelings that we can all experience from time to time. Frustratingly, the pang of regret felt when the item fails us is a more lingering emotion.
So, instead, before making a decision on an item you’re about to purchase, let's consider doing a little research to see what’s on the market in terms of alternatives. Products that really stand out to me are those which are built to last and at the same time, are environmentally friendly.
In this article, I’ll cover 5 reasons you should buy eco-friendly products that are built to last. Because supporting the environment and having a product that lasts decades definitely has its merits. Let’s get into it.
1) SAVE MONEY
When deciding on your next purchase, it may be tempting to go with the item that has a cheaper price tag. It’s an enticing route, but one that can easily drive you round the bend - you’ll end up repurchasing the product again, and again (and then maybe…again). Over time, you’re going in circles and spending more and more money for a product that will fulfill the same purpose.
This is where buying for life truly shines. If you’re able and willing to make the upfront investment, buying products for life will help save you money in the long run. Let’s look at an example.
Say you buy a cheap non-stick frying pan at a supermarket for around $10. With a cheap pan you’ll maybe get 1-2, maybe 3 years use out of it before you start noticing scratches, a loose handle, or even the metal bending.
On the other hand, take a look at a Lodge cast iron pan.
These one piece heavy-duty pans are built to last and can take a beating. They can even be used on a variety of heat sources – on a campfire, stovetop or oven to name a few.
Although more expensive than the previously mentioned alternative, these pans are virtually indestructible and will last for generations. So, for a quick comparison of what you will pay if you continue to repurchase a cheap pan, compared to buying a built-to-last pan, consider the following.
Let’s say the cheap pan lasts for 3 years before it needs to be replaced. Over a span of 20 years that means you’ll end up spending $66 on cheap pans. The current price of a Lodge Cast-Iron Skillet on Amazon is $27.99. That’s a saving of $38 - maybe not a huge sum of money, but if you continue to have this mind set with other items, the savings will continue to accumulate over time.
2) BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
When you can buy an ethically produced and durable product, you’re helping the environment right this second, but also in the long term. Longer lasting products mean less waste, mean our landfills aren’t as full, mean less pollution, and mean the environment is healthier. When that durable product is eco-friendly, perhaps by using environmentally friendly materials such as bamboo, or renewable energy sources such as solar, their immediate ecological footprint is slashed.
There are many eco-friendly alternatives to everyday items that are better for the environment. This includes items such as:
The above items are just a few examples of eco-friendly product alternatives. It’s just the tip of the iceberg for products to create a sustainable lifestyle; what else can we swap out? Let us know in the comments below!
3) BETTER RESALE VALUE
It goes without saying that a better product will have a higher resale value, if ever the day comes that you want to part with your precious possession. Let’s say you are selling two pieces of furniture (two chairs for example) which you’ve each had for 5 years now. One chair has an expected lifespan of 10 years while the other’s lifespan is 40 years, and backed by a lifetime guarantee.
Which chair do you think will end up selling for more money? Likely the chair with a lifespan of 40 years. Although you likely paid more up front for the longer lasting chair, it retains its resale value better and thus you’ll likely end up making more money than the cheaper version if you ever decide to sell it.
4) BETTER FOR YOUR HEALTH
It’s an issue that can slip through the cracks when you’re buying in a world-conscious way – your own health. Many products we use every day, especially laundry detergents and cleaning products, can contain harsh chemicals that don’t contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
Buying shoddy items instead of durable ones can also lead to stress as they fail and you're forced to replace them, putting a strain on your time and your money.
A less well-known offender to keep an eye on is plain old paint. Many traditional varieties contain what are called VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Paints with high VOC concentration aren’t good for the environment or your health and can cause side effects such as headaches, dizziness, or even more serious health effects such as cancer.
Using natural products to replace these necessities helps ensure that you aren’t breathing in any harsh chemicals that could harm your health. Unearthed paints offers eco-friendly clay-based painting alternatives that are non-toxic and contain zero VOCs.
5) FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOUR PURCHASE
And not just at the excited moment you part with your cash. Buying an eco-friendly alternative of a product and one that will last for years contributes to the reduction of overall household waste and helps make the world a greener place to live.
Many environmentally-friendly companies nowadays also commit to giving back to the environment. Some give back every time an item is purchased from their store and others give back through purchasing equipment or taking on initiatives that will help make operations greener. Buying products from companies like this is another great way to feel good about your purchases.
According to Business Insider, a study by Ogilvy Earth found that 80% of American shoppers want to make more sustainable choices, but only 20% actually follow through. So go for it, and spread the word. We have the tools to move towards a more sustainable, less wasteful lifestyle; don’t be scared to evangelize and change your community’s lives alongside your own.
What are your reasons to "buy green" and "buy things once" or do you disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Cody is green advocate, hobbyist musician, and founder of EcoShopr - an eco-friendly product curator
that gives back by planting 1 tree for every item ordered.