Making Win-Win Decisions
In today’s economy, it is often the case that the more affordable items are not the ones that are local, organic, “fair made”, or “fair trade”. The reason why it’s cheaper to buy something, let’s say a t-shirt, that is not under one of those categories is because, in general, the number on the price tag does not account for the “number” done on the environment or the workers who constructed the shirt. In economists’ terms, you are paying for the private cost of the item, but not the social cost. That means that you may be paying for each separate part of the t-shirt- the cotton, the thread, the ink, etc.- but the workers and environment are paying the rest of the bill by being exploited and polluted, respectively. If the company that produced the t-shirt paid their workers fairly and cleaned up the waste their factories produced, then the private cost of the shirt would be higher, and there would be no social cost. Although you would pay a higher price for the shirt, the workers would be sufficiently paid (and happy about it!) and the environment would be immaculate.
The reason why this is all so important is because the current system, in which consumers pay the private cost of goods and services and charge the rest to the world’s tab, is not working. While people may be content in the short run with buying things that are cheap, the environment and society as a whole are in a state of long-run decline. Before long, civilization as we know it will collapse.
Although it may sometimes seem as if paying the extra money for socially-responsible, locally-produced goods only serves to lighten the weight of your wallet, it really does have a positive impact on the world. As increasing numbers of people begin to pay a little more for socially-responsible items, the earth and our communities will begin to rebuild to become stronger, healthier, and more vibrant.
This is truly a win-win situation, although it may be hard to see it that way at first. Think of it like this: if the environment is cleaner and society is happier, you most likely will be, too. This is because you’ll get to live in a world with beautiful landscapes, productive and pleasant neighbors, and diverse wildlife — it doesn’t get any better than that! However, if we continue to make our world bear the costs of irresponsible production, global warming will continue to advance, biodiversity will shrink, and major cities located on our coasts will eventually sink underwater. And if people continue to be exploited and underpaid, communities will break down, poverty will rise, and crime will increase.
Wouldn’t you rather invest in a brighter future?
Some GREEN ideas:
- Instead of going shopping in your free time… go for a walk or bike ride!
- Instead of primarily eating meat with dinner… have fresh vegetables!
- Instead of buying vegetables at the grocery store… grow your own!
- Instead of investing in just any company… invest in green companies!
- Instead of throwing out torn clothes or broken items… fix them!
- Instead of throwing out used books or clothes…. give them away!
- Instead of buying unnecessary trinkets… save your money!
- Instead of buying it cheap at a big store… buy it well-made at a local business!
- Instead of working more… spend more time at home making what you need!
- Instead of buying ready-made, cheap food… devote time to cooking it yourself!
- Instead of buying your own tools and books…. share with neighbors!
- Instead of buying cheap souvenirs… record all your memories in a journal!