You know what? Zero waste is not zero dollar.
I hate to break it to you, but zero waste is not zero dollar.
Just to clarify: We all have our own financial priorities, and it is not the intention of this article to condemn others who simply don’t want to spend a large sum of money on fancy eco-products. Let’s all admit it, living “sustainable” seems to be a luxury. What I am against, is that those who can afford living a greener lifestyle are being rude, dismissive, and super hyper critical of every single product out there.
Ok Guys, the technology or product to get minimal yet effective, and “zero waste” packaging is out there. We can go all carbon neutral, zero waste, no pollution, etc. - it’s just that they are very expensive.
And from a consumer standpoint and also a ‘blogger’ (I hate this term) who ‘interrogates’ brands about their behind-the-scenes, I know for a fact that consumers like to set high expectations for small brands to be perfect.
We like to criticise commercial brands for not pursuing “the greener alternatives”, and we expect boutique brands to be different. What’s more, we expect them to be perfect. Unlike commercial or big brands who will marvel consumers with their prices and heavy marketing, small brands have to think through every single steps to defend themselves and arrive at a competitive costing that these big ass companies enjoy with their scale. Why is it that small brands who just want to be nicer to the environment subject to this kind of harsh expectations?
You know what, zero waste is not zero dollar.
I have met so many businesses out there trying their best to do ‘everything right’, but the response they get is very often a cold comment from consumers, ‘oh it’s too expensive’, or ‘oh it’s not worth it’, without even asking why. We are talking about business owners who spent hours and days and even weeks sourcing for the most ‘green’ vendors, comparing costs and impact, only to hear a comment on ‘expensiveness’. While it is the business’ responsibility to bring you the best pricing as possible, are we kings and queens waiting to be served with the ‘best product possible’ without doing any homework? For those who criticise before even attempting to find out answers: Money can’t buy you knowledge and values, bye.
As consumers we must understand that if a product is to be made ‘properly’, without exploitation of workers or environment, doing everything right, they will most definitely be more expensive. If they aren’t, either they are a scam or they are eating into their profit. Some products are just inherently unnecessary and products of greenwashing, regardless of how green they are, I get it, but I’m talking about those products that for real want to drive positive changes.
We simply aren’t materialistic enough.
Because if we are, and if we care about pricing that much, then instead of just commenting on how expensive the product is, why not understand more about why the product is priced the way it is? We will soon reach an age where transparency will be the norm - this is a growing trend for now but it will be a common practice soon. Businesses will be open to tell you why it is priced the way it is, or even send you a pie chart on which part eats the most money, or how much they are earning! By the time we better be able to judge a product by its value, not its price. (It’s kind of embarrassing if we can’t articulate where and how a product is made in the future, I guess.)
Really? A pie chart? My forecast
“That seems to be a little bit of a stretch - they will tell you how much they are earning?’ Sure, why not.
The majority of world we are in now where products compete solely on how cheap cost of goods can get with monotonous product qualities (can you tell the difference between Loreal and Estee Lauder’s eye serum in a blind test, or could you recite the history or brand story of the two brands?), future brands in the new generations will be differentiated by their brand values, their ideas / formulation, their ingredients, and most importantly, the way they ‘do things’. How do they manage their production waste, deliver packaging, etc. Consumers will value uniqueness and a holistic story of why a brand is the way it is. All of these cannot be reflected just by telling you their P&L.
As such, there is really no reason to shy away from telling consumers how much they earn! (And by contrasting how big brands earn vs them, they might even win consumer’s ‘sympathy’ - yea, if you know how much the big-ass conglomerates earn, you will start to pity these nice people who just try to make a change.
Back on track
I’m going off on a tangent but all I am trying to say is, as consumers, can we simply be more lenient on small brands? We don’t have to splurge on them but at least try to understand why they are priced the way they are before judging them solely on the basis of price? Try not to give excessive pressure for them to be perfect, and also have the necessary curiosity & patience to tell apart a greenwashing and a genuine brand.
Remember: Be more materialistic. Know your materials. Know what it takes. Make the right decision. Zero waste is not zero dollar, and everything comes with a cost. There are no perfect brands or solutions, but we can always choose the ‘the lesser evil’ options.