Let’s be real, sustainability is synonymous with expensive. It’s one of the factors that deters the 65% of consumers that demand sustainable products from actually buying them. But what isn’t acknowledged, in the price of conventional products, is the cost that our planet bears.

Bill Gates’s recent article on Green Premiums exposes the difference between the premium on renewable energy versus fossil fuels, it boils down to a few cups of coffee a month, for the average household. While many still wouldn’t be convinced to pay extra, when they don’t have to, what they don’t realize is that the climate is telling us we need to.

Here’s why the green premium isn’t really a premium: 

  1. As a rule of thumb, consider the lifetime cost of unconventional products, instead of the cost of a single purchase. The t-shirt you bought for $10 will lose its shape in 10-15 washes. You’ll probably need to replace it quickly. By opting for quality, you won’t need to replace your favorite sweaters, dresses and jeans as often as if quantity is your priority. Do the math; the green premium pays off.

2. How much would you pay to have the plastic cleaned off your local beach? How much would you want to be paid if you were stitching garments? Weigh the human and environmental cost and benefit of conventional versus sustainable products. Sustainable products are priced higher because their makers are paid a living wage and the brands are innovating to repurpose plastic thrown on beaches. They’re helping the environment and that comes at a price to the consumer. Conventional brands are hurting our planet at the cost of our futures. Whose price is it to pay?

3. Bill Gates dives deep into the world of renewable energy to get his point about green premiums across. Enter carbon offsetting. The laws of supply and demand dictate that sufficient supply is required to make the price affordable. By funding carbon offset projects and opting for carbon neutral products, we can make renewable energy abundant and readily available. Renewable energy no longer needs to mean expensive or exclusive. We can run our homes, factories, retail outlets and headquarters on renewables. Brands who offset their supply chain’s emissions play their role in this larger movement; see how they do so with Green Story.

What do we do?

Real change stems from collective action. But collective action is a misleading term. It implies that a greater “group” must act, when in reality it is the culmination of each individuals’ actions that snowballs into material change.

The green premium for sustainable clothes may not fit everyone’s budget, but carbon offsetting is surprisingly affordable. What’s even better, is opting for sustainable and carbon neutral garments. Consider adding carbon neutrality into your criteria when shopping or offsetting the footprint of a recent flight (or train). Regardless of your income or budget, there is something you can do to play your part. Recycle, repurpose, advocate or vote with your wallet. Be part of the change.

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