The misconception that choosing organic is always more expensive
Green Living expert, Aida Garcia Toledo debunks the myth that living a more eco-friendly life is expensive
Somehow, somewhere, an idea was born, and it spread rapidly; that organic living is important, but it comes at a very high cost. Being able to live a sustainable, non-toxic lifestyle is a luxury that many simply could not afford.
Is this true or is it a myth?
The answer isn’t black or white because, truth be told, there are aspects of non-toxic living that will cost you more at the cash register. However, you might be surprised to find that, most of the time, living a non-toxic lifestyle can actually be more cost effective than the alternative.
One of the main areas of non-toxic living where you can save a substantial amount of money is in personal care and beauty products. The key to spending less on personal care products is to go shopping for daily use items in your kitchen instead of your local beauty or department store. Embrace DIY and use less products. These three switches will help you spend less, produce less waste, and reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals.
How to spend less on personal care?
- Natural Moisturizer: Coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil and shea butter are nature’s most effective moisturizers.
- Multi-purpose tonic: Organic apple cider vinegar can work as an all natural hair conditioner and detangler (water it down with up to 50% water to reduce the strong smell), as a skin toner that helps reduce skin inflammation, and even as a mouthwash.
- Body scrub: Store bought body scrubs are often pricey and filled with artificial fragrances or micro-plastics. Making your own body scrub is another incredibly easy and cost effective alternative: just mix 1 cup of organic granulated brown sugar, with ½ cup of olive oil. You can store in a sealed small mason jar.
- Bar soap: Bar soaps not only often last longer than liquid soaps, they use less packaging which means less waste. Plain Castille bar soap is one of the best cost effective non-toxic personal care basics.
There is no doubt about it; an organic apple will cost more than a non-organic apple. So, yes, while organic food is more expensive than conventional food, there is a case to be made for the potential long-term cost of eating non-organic food. Conventional food is treated with pesticides, antibiotics and synthetic additives. The cumulative exposure of being exposed to this throughout your life has been linked to increased risk of many health ailments including diabetes, ADD and even cancer (a study by JAMA Internal Medicine looked at 69,000 French adults and found that those who ate the most organic foods were 25% less likely to develop cancer. Specifically, they were 73% less likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma and 21% less likely to develop post-menopausal breast cancer) — all of which will cost you more in health management costs down the line.
How to spend less on organic food?
- Farmers’ Markets: Visit your local farmer’s market an hour before closing. Prices are usually lowered significantly in the last hour of a farmer’s market as farmers prefer to sell what they have for less than return home with unsold produce.
- Support a local CSA: CSA Stands for Community Supported Agriculture. CSA allows city residents to have direct access to high quality, fresh produce grown locally by regional farmers. When you become a member of a CSA, you’re purchasing a “share” of vegetables from a regional farmer at a much lower price.
- Grow your own: Consider growing your own organic fruits and vegetables at home in your garden, on a balcony or even in a vertical garden indoors.
- Shop Smart: Certain large chains like Trader Joes, Costco and 365 offer better priced organic foods.
A good water filtration system is at the core of non-toxic living. According to the Environmental Working Group, millions of Americans are drinking water with unsafe amount of pollutants which is why it is so important to filter the water your family drinks and cooks with. Quality water filtration systems can be costly however, ranging from $400 to upwards of $1500. While the price tag is high, with the average cost of a bottle of water being $1.50 the water filter pays itself off after 266 – 1,000 plastic bottles used.
Hands down the area where non-toxic living is substantially less expensive is with cleaning supplies. Somehow, through the years, companies have convinced us that clean needs to ‘smell clean’ and that we need to spend money on 20 different ‘specialized’ cleaning products for different parts of our home. The reality is that most of our homes can effectively be cleaned with four basic ingredients; vinegar, water, soap and baking soda.
How to spend less on cleaners?
- All purpose cleaner: Mix 50% distilled white vinegar with 50% water (you can add organic natural essential oils if the smell of vinegar bothers you).
- Drain cleaner: No need to buy incredibly toxic drain cleaners. Instead, pour a pot of boiling hot water down your drain followed by 1/2 cup baking soda. Then, pour a cup of white vinegar into the drain and allow the mixture to sit for a couple of minutes. When the fizzing has stopped, flush down with 2 -3 cups of boiling water.
- Bathtub/shower cleaner: Spray the entire area with a 50/50 vinegar/water solution. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Then, scrub with a soft bristle scrub brush. For tougher stains, make a hydrogen peroxide and baking soda paste, place over stain, and scrub with a soft bristle brush or microfiber cloth, finishing with a thorough water rinse.
Toys & Baby products
Here, the key is to think long-term. Investing in high quality, organic, non-toxic items will, undoubtedly, cost more upfront. However, most organic, non-toxic toys and baby products are made with better quality materials meaning that these items last longer, ultimately saving you money in the long run.
How to spend less on toys & baby gear:
- Choose wood: Sustainable wooden toys might cost more than plastic ones, however they will remain in great shape for years and can be reused by countless siblings/cousins/ friends.
- Say ‘No’ to plastic: Stainless steel plates, cups, straws, water bottles and snack containers last for years longer than their plastic counterparts.
- Cloth vs. disposable: Cloth diapering systems might seem like an investment in time and money, however the cost (to your pocket book and to the planet) of disposable diapering quickly adds up
- Organic cotton:
Still think green living has to be expensive? Here are just a sampling of The Tot’s Green Living Finds – all under $30