Is sustainable more expensive?

There are three factors to take into consideration when buying a brand that is sustainable:

  1. Cost of labour: fair payment and fair working conditions
  2. Natural, raw materials that come from the source / sustainable packaging
  3. Niche market

Cost of labour: fair payment and fair working conditions

We live in a fast world; fast food, fast fashion, fast pace of life, all of which has been introduced because of globalisation, a theory that has generated exploitative industries powered by cheap labour used to generate huge profits with low production costs – a concept that many brands rely on.

Having low production costs allows brands to produce a lot, at a very low price, meaning that the selling price wouldn’t be so high but still allow them to make a good profit. By purchasing brands that follow this kind of cycle, we are asking them to produce more. If you think about it, we are contributing to a world that allows labor exploitation and this is clearly reflected in our own lives. How? In our job salaries for example, which are also allowed to be low and undervalued.

A sustainable brand takes into consideration all aspects of the creation of a product. Caring for the person that is giving life to the product is part of the price.  Africana skincare establishes direct relation with everyone involved in each part of the process of production. This means getting to know that person, where they come from, their background story, etc. They are not just another employee amongst thousands of employees, but they are part of the reason Africana skincare could come to life.

They work in their natural environment, an environment they are already used to and feel happy working in, as opposed to being placed somewhere they are unfamiliar with and restrained by rules and working hours.

Natural, raw materials that come from the source / sustainable packaging

Sustainable brands tend to use materials that are ethically sourced and recyclable, and do not harm the environment. Africana skincare uses locally sourced materials, some of which are not easy or cheap to get. This involves the craftsmen having to travel for hours to a specific village, or waiting for someone to bring them the material from that specific village.

If we look at packaging for example, hand made production is always more costly because it involves more time and effort. This means that (unintentionally or maybe intentionally) we know that we are paying for someones effort and rewarding their talent.

We live in a world fuelled by so many distractions, thinking deeper into the production cycle of a product is simply something we do not have time for or are uninterested.  We see something we like, we are ok with the price marked on the tag, and we just buy it without any guilt. We actually see it as a “reward” for ourselves. Sometimes we need more of these sustainable brands to reminds us of all the back information and story that is behind each brand. We will realise that our actions towards buying one brand or another, can actually go a long way.

Hand made production means we are paying for someones effort and rewarding their talent

Niche market

There is a simple equation to explain this point:

Niche market = less purchase = higher production costs = higher selling prices = less likely to buy.

This equation is like a vicious circle that we need to break. Natural cosmetics can be a great example of this. At the beginning it was so expensive, but the more people bought into it the more the prices went down and it became more widespread, even creating “cheap versions” of mainstream brands but with a natural ingredient format.

The conclusion

We live in a society where we do not value things that are done in the right way, such as thinking of a common good like our planet and taking care of it.

We claim we want to purchase products that contribute to a more sustainable life but when we look at the price and see that maybe the product we want or need is cheaper elsewhere (non sustainable) we go for that one. We keep demanding more of that labor exploitation instead of contributing to increase sales of sustainable brands.

What if the problem is not in the sustainable brands but in the society that we allow to act in an unfair way?