Earth Day and Your Finances

by David Bakke

earth dayToday is Earth Day, and is designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment.

Over the past few days, during the course of my visits to a few retail stores, I wanted to tell you about my experiences there.

They will remain nameless, but at the first one, they had their cash registers fully stocked with green Earth Day bags and were packaging all their customers’ purchases in them.  This was a major retailer by the way.  When it came to me, of course I asked, “Is this bag free?”  The lady replied “Yes, how can we expect people to go “green” if it’s too expensive to do so?”  Or something to that effect.

I almost fell over when I heard this statement.  I could not imagine what the cost of all those green bags would be to the company by the time Earth Day had concluded.  At the second store, I brought my purchases to the counter, and was promptly asked by the cashier if I would like to buy a green Earth Day bag for $1.75.  I would have said “no” anyways, but I  responded that I already got one for free at my last stop.  She didn’t really respond to that, and I didn’t really expect her to.

Then I got to thinking about two pretty important points.  First, I don’t think it is right to place your finances over protecting the environment, unless the expense is simply too large.  What I mean by this is that if you can afford some “green” household cleaner by spending a few more pennies, I feel it should be done for the sake of the environment.  However, I am not advocating that everyone go out and spend $10K to install solar panels on their roof to conserve energy.

I never used to think this way, but I began to recently.  Although I will do almost anything to save money in my everyday life, I don’t think it is right to sacrifice the environment to do so.  For the household cleaners that we still buy(rather than making at home) I do spend the extra money to get ones that are environmentally safe, and our household does recycle everything we can, although it does involve spending money on storage supplies and involves extra trips to the recycling center and so on.  Simply put, I do spend extra money to be mindful of the environment.

Which brings me to my second point.  Why should it cost us more money as consumers to become “green” to begin with?  Shouldn’t it be less expensive?  Do we really believe that it is more expensive to produce some sort of household cleaner (or any other product for that matter) from natural, organic ingredients rather than the other chemicals they are made with?

I think it is the environmental and moral responsibility of so-called “big business” to bring down the prices of all things “green” if we as a society want to seriously commit to caring for our environment.

Can you imagine how many more people would go “green” or become more environmentally responsible if they could also save money by doing so?

I am not here to make political statements or to get on my “soapbox” to call out big business. It is just that this simple little exchange about these two Earth Day bags made me realize that if it were more financially attractive to most people, I think the “green” movement would be less of a Hollywood anomaly, and more of a mainstream movement.

Agree?  Disagree? Your thoughts are always appreciated below.

{ 1 trackback }

Happy Earth Day, Now What?
April 22, 2010 at 12:35 pm

{ 8 comments }

1 kitchM April 22, 2010 at 11:42 am

hi David,
i agree with the fact that the organic things must be available at reasonable rates so that more and more people purchase it. but i guess the problem therein is that the organic things are produces with lot more efforts, for instance, organic fruits and vegetables are grown with lot of care without the use of some chemicals and fertilizers. this requires lot more effort from the side of the farmer also organic manure is produced after a long toil and wait. looking at those things…its no wonder that they’re priced higher.

i am not trying to oppose you here but this is a dilemma and i don’t know understand what could be the possible solutions. at the end of the day, i do feel that organic things must be available at less prices so that everyone can use it.

2 Forest April 22, 2010 at 12:44 pm

I absolutely agree…. Saving money is very important but so is being able to live on the planet we were born on…. Avatar and WALL-E made statements about where we are heading if we don’t fix this issue soon….
.-= Forest´s last blog ..Cheap Wrapping Paper Tip: Old Printer Paper =-.

3 Cajun Chef Ryan April 22, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Happy Earth Day David!

Indeed, there are so many little things that we can all do, and they add up to more than we can ever imagine. The sum of the parts are greater than the whole, and here are some of the little things we do to help, and save money too.
We too use the green grocery bags, in fact, Walgreen’s has theirs for .99 each, we bought ten of them, and our Lowe’s grocery store gives us .05 per bag credit for each “green” bag that we use that goes toward or Green Points, typically we use about 6 bags per trip, that adds up to $1.20 per month average that we save.
We planted a larger garden with herbs and vegetables, right in the front yard, taking ideas from the “Eat The View” movement. Can’t get much more local than your front lawn!
Se purchase deli meats that are packaged in the reusable plastic containers with lids. We reuse the plastic containers for our lunches, storing items, and such. They get used hundreds of times and we don’t have to buy the containers separately.
Recycle brown water for watering non-edible garden plants and the lawn, reduces our water bill especially in the summer.

4 Amanda Y. April 22, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Some eco-friendly companies (Seventh Generation comes to mind) are committed to keeping their prices lower than the normal products in many categories (their paper towels and towel paper are the best, but their dish detergent is usually very reasonably priced as well) and I think that makes more sense. If you’re using recycled products, it should be cheaper. The natural chemicals can cost more than man-made, mostly because our gov’t subsidizes the chemical companies with grants and would rather encourage biofuel from corn than cleaning products…but so it goes. One small change at a time, right?

5 david/yourfinances101 April 23, 2010 at 2:06 am

KitchM

You bring up some great points.

I guess my theory is a little too simplistic.

And maybe a little wishful thinking as well.

Thanks for commenting!

6 david/yourfinances101 April 23, 2010 at 2:07 am

Forest

Thanks for chiming in…

I agree….we have been taken Planet Earth for granted for far too long now–I just hope its not too late.
.-= david/yourfinances101´s last blog ..Earth Day and Your Finances =-.

7 david/yourfinances101 April 23, 2010 at 2:08 am

Ryan:

Great stuff and all great ideas.

You hit the nail on the head.

Every little bit that we ALL do will go a long way!
.-= david/yourfinances101´s last blog ..Earth Day and Your Finances =-.

8 david/yourfinances101 April 23, 2010 at 2:10 am

Amanda

You are right–one small change at a time.

I’ve seen 7th Generation but never looked real close to their prices.

I might be switching soon…

Thanks for the tip!
.-= david/yourfinances101´s last blog ..Earth Day and Your Finances =-.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: