In the past 10 days I have been on the radio twice to discuss the fact that organic products cost more, and these interviews have really brought to light for me that we need to rethink our value judgements or at least rethink the perspective from which we ask questions, as a society.
So this is the scenario I am presented with quite often: an organic dishwashing liquid has a higher rand tag of say R4 or an organic deodorant costs R25 instead of R12. I am then told that since the organic products are more expensive that only the wealthy can afford them. The higher price also brings up suspicion – “If it’s so good for me and the planet, why does it cost so much more?”
The problem is that our conventional cleaning; cosmetics and food products are making us very sick, and they are making our environment sick. So the solution has to be to find a way to ensure that all the products in our trolley are not harmful. And yes, the solution needs to be affordable and the products need to work but more importantly, we need to be moving away as quickly as possible from that which is putting us in danger.
Unfortunately as a society we have been taught that more is better; that the less we can pay, the more we score and it is this very value judgement that incentivises the big manufacturers to put profit before safety. So when we see a higher price tag, we quickly seem to forget that the root problem is that our conventional products are killing us. What is the point of spending our hard earned cash on beautifying ourselves; or keeping our homes sparkling clean or even tummies full, if the hard earned cash is going to towards products that are actually making us sick?
I would suggest that instead of saying that you cannot afford organic products, remind yourself that what you are actually saying is that you can only afford to buy toxic food and products that put your health at risk, and reduce your body’s own ability to heal and nourish itself – that what you are saying is that you would rather spend less or more money on anti-aging products that are toxic and doing more damage to your skin ability to replenish itself than try organic products. That you would rather spend R50 a month less on cleaning products that greatly increase the chance of your kids being asthmatic, because truly that is what is really going on here.
The thing to do is to look at how you can afford the organic products. For starters, if you are taking vitamins for greater health but bringing a load of toxins into your home then you really need to re-evaluate what it is that you are trying to achieve with your purchases.
Remember that just because organic products cost more than synthetic products, does not mean that they are expensive.
Even if they have a higher price tag, organic products are not expensive, as you are getting exactly what you pay for. The thing is that the conventional products have petroleum by-products; cheap but nasty preservatives and harsh foaming agents and emollients. The question that should rather be asked therefore is why do our conventional products cost so little? How can you buy 3 apples for the same price as a bar of soap? What exactly is in that bar of soap to keep it so inexpensive? Comparing organic products with their toxic counterparts is like comparing coconut oil and diesel. Both lubricate, but they are very different products.
Poor health is expensive, not only because it taxes the spirit but also because high doctors’ bills and medicine tax your bank account and reduces your energy to create abundance.
We may also just have to learn that we need to pay more money for products that tax our health less in the long-term and make adjustments to our disposable income where we can to afford this. A cold pressed organic soap may never cost the same as a commercially produced soap, and maybe we don’t actually want to ever pay R2 for a soap because of what it will have cost in terms of our and the planet’s health to get a soap to be valued at such a low price.
So what to do?
First, be honest with yourself. Can you really not afford to spend between R50 and R500 (depending on what you are buying and how big your family is) a month to buy higher quality products and food, and if the answer is still no, then you need to start making some choices. The premise of organic is to use less. You don’t need 3 different lotions – one cream will do for your hands; body and feet. A good non-toxic all-purpose cleaner will clean your dishes; windows; counter tops and baths. Organic products are also more nourishing and richer as they have not been diluted with mineral oils; so you need to use less. Furthermore, because you are no longer using a harsh soap, you will not need to use so much moisturiser after jumping out of the shower.
The next thing to do is prioritise your income intelligently. Is that extra take-out really worth only being able to afford toxic products and food?
How Can we Bring Down the Price Tag of Organic Products?
The answer is not to blame those who are making organic products. Trust me, I can guarantee you that our suppliers, as us, have low margins and are doing everything they can to make their products affordable, but because less people demand their products, they cost more to make. Furthermore, because less people demand organic ingredients, so too do the ingredients cost more for them to purchase to make the products with. Where I am actually going with all of this is that our suppliers need to keep up their work, but we also need the public to demand more authentic products. When this market grows, the cost to produce the products becomes lower and then the price tag on the products is lower.
It’s a much bigger shift in consciousness that is required. When both the less wealthy and the more privileged start to see the value in paying more for their “organic” food, household and cosmetics even if it means cutting out the fast food, or eating one less meal a week with meat, society as a whole wins.