Ever notice how inexpensive it is to eat McDonald's? The dollar menu, supersized fries and double quarter pounders are available until the wee hours of the morning just in case you need to have a junk food fix before your morning coffee.
Why is it that this:
Is more affordable and accessible than this?
McDonald's isn't better for our health, it isn't better for the environment but is more accessible to the public than basic fruits and veg. In the documentary SUPERSIZE ME, director Morgan Spurlock's social experiment in fast-food gastronomy sees him attempting to subsist uniquely on food from the McDonald's menu for an entire month. In the process his weight balloons, his energy level plummets and he experiences all sorts of unexpected side effects and he doesn't even touch on how this fast food industry is affecting our environment.
This cheap, fast food fix is destroying the health of children and adults alike but that's not all it's destroying. Do you ever wonder why people refer to vegans as "earth friendly"? It is not just because they like to cuddle with fuzzy animals instead of eat them, it is because they care, deeply, about our planet. Eating meat has a waterfall effect. Eating meat means that the animals you are eating need to be farmed and care for.
A vegan diet is often referred to as a sustainable diet because on average, a vegan diet saves:
4,200 liters of water per day
20.4 kilograms of grains per day
9.1 kilograms CO2 equivalent per day
2.8 meters squared of forested land per day (Source veganismbythenumbers)
Livestock farming has a huge environmental footprint. It contributes to land and water degradation, biodiversity loss, acid rain, coral reef degeneration and deforestation. See? I told you it has a waterfall effect. Nowhere is this impact more apparent than climate change – livestock farming contributes 18% of human produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
It isn't just food that makes a vegan lifestyle, there are all kinds of Vegan friendly products too. When you see a product that says "Vegan Friendly" or "Vegan", it simply means that it was made with no animal products. If it was made with no animal products, then it required no farming of animals and none of the above mentioned damaging effects to the environment during its production.
Now that we got that out of the way, let's talk moolah.
Money is one of those things that we never have enough of. We work hard to earn the money we have and often times what we buy is determined by the discounted price rather than its effect on the environment or our bodies. We as a human species, need to look at our planet and our health as a priority, both are worth the investment.
Organic products, sustainable products, locally and handmade products are more expensive as a general rule. It is easy to walk past the organic and sustainable living section when we have to choose between spending 99 cents on a plastic bottle of shampoo and a zerowaste shampoo bar for 13 dollars, or is it? Let's take a closer look at how you are spending your money.
Plastic Bottled Shampoo vs Shampoo Bar
This bottle is 12.5 fluid ounces. In general, about a tablespoon of shampoo is used for each wash and there are two tablespoons in an ounce, therefore there are approximately 18-25 washes in a 12.5 oz bottle of shampoo. Now think about the number of members in your family and multiply that by the number of showers (we hope you are taking showers instead of baths...but that's another blog ;) ) taken each week. How many bottles of shampoo are you going through each week? How about conditioner, that is used more liberally.
How does it contribute to environmental pollution?
*Landfills are filling up three times as fast as they would without the plastic bottles
*These and other plastics are polluting our beaches and adding to the garbage patches in our oceans, not to mention their effect on marine life itself.
*It can take up to 1000 years for a plastic bottle to DEGRADE, plastics do not BIODEGRADE, so it will remain in our environment forever. As it degrades, it releases toxic chemicals into the air, soil and water.
*Giant amounts of fossil fuels are required to produce and transport these bottles
*When plastic is produced, it's made from toxic materials such as benzene and vinyl hydrochloride. It is destined to be toxic from birth to forever. These chemicals are known to cause cancer, and the manufacturing byproducts contaminate our air and soil.
Okay, now let's compare to a shampoo bar by Glitz Soap Co.
This shampoo bar is 2 ounces, comes in a reusable, biodegradable tin container, provides approximately 70-80 washes and costs 12 dollars. There are no plastics involved and therefore it does not contribute to environmental pollution or landfill population and is not harmful to animals or marine life. It is a vegan friendly bar. It is handmade by the Glitz folks in the USA. Period.
That is just one product, there are so many out there to explore and compare. Visit our Sustainable Products to see more examples.
Why is it more expensive to buy sustainable products?
Sustainable products are not always more expensive (many times they appear to be more expensive upfront however they actually save money in the long run) but when they are, it is usually for the following reasons:
*The manufacturer donates a portion of it's revenue to environmental efforts such as ocean clean up, marine life rehabilitation and honey bee conservation
*It is a mom & pop, small family business
*Sustainable materials often cost more to grow and manufacture
*Reputable third party certifications such as "Fair Trade & Organic" are not inexpensive to obtain
*Organic materials are more expensive to grow, partly due to the use of alternative means of pest control, instead of using chemicals
*A fair wage for laborers is an expense most eco-friendly companies accept and honor
*It takes more time to produce an eco-friendly product, and time is money
I hope this has shed some light on the cost of sustainable living and why it is important to take the plunge. Check back or subscribe to see the next blog on sustainable living.
Thanks for reading!