Are eco-friendly products really any good?

Eco-friendly products come with thick wrapping and an expensive price tag not everyone can afford.

By Anjali V Raj
Published: Monday 13 April 2020

There is an obsession among people for eco-friendly brands that are tagged with 100 per cent natural / organic labels.

People feel they are responsible humans once they buy such products.

Such products come with thick wrapping and an expensive price tag that not everyone can afford. What is the actual purpose of these eco-friendly items if they are not eco-socially friendly at all? Is it just a marketing technique to increase profits or are these products indicators of an elitist society?

Once, I was at a hypermarket where organic vegetables and fruits were kept in a different section with dim, classy lighting, where only those with Gucci bags and iPhones were seen, claiming their territory.

It was meant to be a platform for some to show off their class. Why does the term ‘organic’ make fruits and vegetables expensive, when they should be cheaper than their ‘inorganic’ counterparts?

Where do these extra costs come from — the ones that make these products so expensive that only elites can afford them?

The only raw material for the cow to produce dung is grass and some fodder, unless there is something known as an ‘organic cow’ — where only specialised grass and fodder is fed to it — making the manure expensive.

Good things come at prices that are not meant for all. The same rules apply for eco-friendly products too. The price of any commodity with an eco-friendly tag to it is thrice the price of its regular counterpart.

Are such products supposed to encourage people to care for nature and protect the environment?

If the idea was to create a lifestyle to go hand-in-hand with nature, then why are such products not affordable to all classes in society?

The notion that it is a challenge to live in an eco-friendly manner, with environmentally friendly products usually being expensive, is often brought up among ordinary people.

A regular pack of eight non-eco-friendly sanitary pads is available in the market for Rs 30-40, while a pack of 10 eco-friendly biodegradable sanitary pads cost Rs 250-300.

So much for being eco-friendly.

Such products are not just expensive, but unaffordable by people who belong to a below-average income strata.

Elitists who like to show off their class buy eco-friendly sanitary pads in a manner similar to buying regular ones, sometimes even more, as an eco-friendly tag gives them a license to produce more waste.

They do not realise that, eco-friendly or not, this ultimately generates more waste after use, something that does not sound eco-friendly at all.

A necessity-based consumption pattern should instead be promoted.

When people who can afford eco-friendly products, fill themselves with the feeling of being righteous, there is another group that is being denied the choice to live a sustainable life.

The society that once lectured people on the consequences of using a cloth as sanitary material during menstruation, while extolling the benefits of synthetic sanitary pads, now lectures people on how cloth pads can reduce sanitary waste production.

People were earlier fine with bringing cloth or jute bags for buying groceries. Shops then began offering plastic carry bags free-of-cost, encouraging people to change their eco-friendly lifestyles. The same shops now charge their customers for cheap cloth carry bags.

How fair is that? When authorities are running around with the idea of promoting sustainable living, non-eco-friendly products are still cheap, while eco-friendly ones are at a high price, when it should be the other way round.

Everybody loves the idea of sustainable living and wishes to do so.

There is hardly anyone who does not love the environment, but what choice do they have, unless there is a change in certain things put in the above absurd manner. How can you ask someone to cook without giving them raw materials?

Similarly, if we want the common people to follow an eco-friendly sustainable lifestyle, we need to make sure the drivers for this are available for everyone and understand that they need to unlearn certain habits, taught to them by this very society.

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