The High Cost of Low Cost Products - Saltbox Sash

The High Cost of Low Cost Products

Our accessibility to inexpensive products has increased steadily over the years, making it almost too easy to click and buy anything one can think of. So easy in fact, we often don't consider the societal, environmental, and financial impact of these cheap, mass-produced products. The rate our world is consuming and discarding products is not sustainable for people, or the planet, and the demand only seems to be increasing. Today, we're sharing three ways low-cost products cost us big time, and what we can do instead.

human costs

The Human Cost: Most of us are unaware that many items we buy come at the expense of someone else treated and paid unfairly. However, let's ask ourselves an uncomfortable question: How can companies sell products at such affordable prices? The answer, in part, is cheap labor, unethical business practices, and the mistreatment and exploitation of producers. We can all agree that no item is worth the low-cost price when workers in many parts of the world (including the US!) are not earning enough to adequately cover their basic needs.

 environmental costs

The Environmental Cost: “There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw anything away, it must go somewhere.” - Annie Leonard We live in a throw-away society that celebrates the cheapness of products we buy, use, and discard after a short period. Similar to the human cost of cheap labor, companies cut corners and produce products containing dangerous toxic chemicals that are hazardous to the health and well-being of the workers, our environment and animals.

financial costs

The Economic Cost: The financial issue is sticky because our ability to purchase cheap products evoke feelings of "richness" at the moment of purchase. However, this tactic is by design; companies want us to feel a sense of abundance overshadowing the fact that we are actually being taken advantage of. How many times must we purchase the same item over and over again before we've paid well beyond what it would have cost us had we invested in one great item that will stand the test of time? 

What We Can Do: To start, we can keep this quote by Anna Lappe in mind every time we shop and remember that we, the consumers hold the power, not the other way around. If more of us support companies that align with our values, we'll start to see a shift in the marketplace. 

“Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”

- Choose quality over quantity: Save for and invest in products that are better quality and stand the test of time. Support fair trade and ethical companies with transparent business practices.

- Stay away from trends: Choose timeless, classic, staples for your closet and home that are always in style.

- Shop secondhand: As I write this article, I'm wearing a secondhand sweater I bought from Thredup for a fraction of the cost had I purchased it new. This is a smart strategy to offset the cost of investing in new high-quality pieces that you may not or cannot buy secondhand. Not only will you save them from heading to the landfill, you're likely to find a lot of beautiful items.

We hope you enjoyed this post and find it to be a useful tool as you delineate a new path to ethical and conscious shopping.

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