Today’s big idea is that having a healthier environment is worth paying a little more for the stuff you buy. A friend’s husband works for an organic food company. And I remember once when we were out to dinner with them he asked, do you seek out organic products, even if they cost more? He had this skeptical look–it wasn’t disdainful. It was just like, really? Does this really matter to you? And I was like, oh yes, absolutely. For one, the fewer chemicals I eat and my family eats, well, let’s just say I consider that a huge win. Because I’d rather spend more on food now and way less on healthcare bills later. That is a bargain I will make any day of the week.
Plus, my buying organic food means fewer chemical pesticides and fertilizers will get used in the fields and end up in the water. So, yay. And, having written so much about health in articles and books for close to the past two decades has beyond convinced me that reducing our toxic exposures matters to our personal health, our communal health, and our environmental health, and it matters a lot.
Listen to the Podcast Here
But organic food is just one piece of things that cost more, or can be harder to find, that are better for the environment.
You can also seek out:
Organic clothes, sheets, and towels. These don’t need to be top of the line. But maybe they cost a couple dollars more than a comparable version. H&M has a great line of organic clothing. And I bought some organic Martha Stewart towels at Home Goods!
Recycled paper products, or paper products made from trees that are Forest Stewardship Council certified. This goes for everything from toilet paper and paper towels to copy paper. I know that a lot of people have very strong feelings about using soft toilet paper, lol. Your tush will get used to it. If you travel to other parts of the world, you realize that our toilet paper in America is more like little quilts; it’s kind of excessive. Unless you have a chronic GI condition, perhaps, I’m willing to wager that your tush can adjust.
Anytime you buy something Fair trade certified it benefits growers and workers but also the environment
Shade grown coffee means that fields aren’t clear-cut in order to grow coffee bushes, but rather the coffee plants are planted in the shade of existing trees.
Soaps and detergents for your dishes and your laundry that DON’T contain phosphates, an ingredient in most conventional detergents that build up in waterways and lead to big algae blooms that can deplete the water of oxygen and kill off fish. It’s also helpful to spring for the detergents that don’t use big plastic bottles, because those take a lot of resources to manufacture and then they don’t break down and are resource intensive to recycle.
But the big picture here is that it’s time to break this pervasive idea in our culture that cheapest is best
Because all of these options will cost a little, or sometimes a lot more than the cheapest option out there. And I understand the realities of a household budget, I truly do. I have lived on many different levels of income in my life, so there’s no judgment here–and if Scott toilet paper is all that your budget has room for at the moment, God bless and you do you.
But no matter what your budget is, it’s not bad to really have to think about whether you need something, and not just toss it in your cart because it’s cheap. Paying a little more for something–perhaps the thing you need that doesn’t come in a lot of plastic packaging costs $2 more, that is such a great use of those $2because that upfront cost can help send a message to companies to use less packaging that will make a big impact on environmental health and save us all money when we don’t have to rebuild our houses after a storm, or move to a new location that’s less affected by the climate.
In a capitalist society, you really do vote with your dollars every time you open your wallet–you don’t have to wait for elections to roll around to exercise your wishes. Swallowing hard and spending a bit more helps you use your voice for the planet.
Paying more will also help you be more mindful about how you use something
You won’t use a giant wad of paper towels to mop up a spill if you paid more for them, you’ll use a rag instead.
If you doubt that one person making a different purchasing decision will have an impact, consider this stat from OneGreenPlanet.org:
“If every household in America replaced just one package each of conventional toilet paper, paper towels, napkins and tissues with products made from recycled materials, we would save about 10 million trees!”
Daily Tiny Assignment
Your tiny assignment is to make one thing that you buy regularly a step up, environmentally, from what you usually buy. Whether it’s organic food, or toilet paper, or clothes, or furniture, or school or office supplies. You may just be one drop of water, but when you get enough drops of water together they form rivers, even oceans.
Come back tomorrow, when I’m talking about one particular purchasing decision that can have really far-reaching effects. It does cost a bit more, but when you hear about the benefits, I think you’ll think about it differently. (Sometimes we all need a pep talk!) And that is paying up for renewable energy.