Eco-Friendly Products Cost More «Green»?

3 in 5 (60%) consumers would be motivated to purchase a green product if a cost savings were involved.

The Luxonomist. 09/04/2015
Earth Day
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AsEarth Dayapproaches and consumers look for opportunities to lessen their impact on the environment, they may be asking themselves «at what cost?» RetailMeNot, a leading digital offers destination that helps consumers save money, recently conducted a survey that found more than 4 in 5 (81%) consumers think environmentally friendly items are more expensive than non-green products.

The perception that eco-friendly products are cost-prohibitive could explain why fewer people consider their lifestyles to be at least a little bit green compared to the prior year. According to this year’s survey, nearly 9 in 10 (89%) respondents do what they can to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle, including recycling, reusing products or buying «green» products. This is down slightly from 2014, when 94 percent of respondents indicated they practice these eco-friendly behaviors.

The good news? A vast majority (89%) of the nation is willing to purchase at least one kind of product that has a positive impact on the environment. Of those who would purchase green products, 3 in 4 (75%) respondents would buy energy-efficient light bulbs and close to 2 in 3 would purchase energy-efficient appliances (65%) or electronics (61%). Bigger ticket items, such as solar panels (38%), hybrid vehicles (34%) or electric vehicles (24%) are far less popular eco-friendly investments.

Reusable fabric bags, like LunchSkins, are dishwasher-safe and offer an eco-friendly alternative to plastic baggies. (Photo: LunchSkins via Facebook)

Despite the nation’s willingness to spend money on some form of a green product, more than 3 in 5 (61%) of these respondents would only consider purchasing an environmentally friendly product if it cost the same or less than a non-green product.

«To motivate shoppers to purchase eco-friendly products, many retailers offer discounts in April surroundingEarth Day«, says Trae Bodge, senior lifestyle editor for The Real Deal by RetailMeNot. «We typically see offers for sustainable products, green cleaning supplies and organic health and beauty products».

When it comes to practicing environmentally friendly behaviors, a majority of people are willing to make small changes in their day-to-day lives, such as turn off lights when they leave a room (78%), turn off the water when it’s not in use (72%), recycle plastic/paper/metal (65%), reuse towels more than once before washing (59%) and reuse plastic bottles/containers (58%).

Running the dishwasher (when it’s full) is a greener alternative than washing dishes by hand.

However, work and transportation may be where many people draw the line on taking steps toward living a more environmentally friendly life. More than 3 in 4 (76%) working Americans would be unwilling to carpool to work. Additionally, more than 2 in 3 (69%) consumers would be unwilling to forgo their car and use an alternate method of transportation, like public transit or biking.

Although purchasing eco-friendly products may benefit the environment, that has little to do with why most people make the decision to buy them. Consumers would be most effectively convinced to purchase a green product if a cost savings were involved. Close to 1 in 3 (32%) would most likely be prompted to buy a green product if it were guaranteed to save them money over time, and nearly as many (28%) would be more likely to make the purchase if it were on sale. The opportunity to save money far outweighed other factors like the product being guaranteed to be of a higher quality (16%) or if the product being linked to a good cause (7%).

Matches, especially those made from recycled paper, are more earth-friendly than those disposable plastic lighters. (Photo: Nomaan Ahgharian via Flickr)

And just what would people do with the extra money they gained from purchasing an energy-efficient or eco-friendly product? Half (50%) of consumers surveyed would put that money into savings and nearly as many (40%) would put it toward bills or pay off debt (35%). Demographic differences:

  • Gender influences eco behaviors:More men than women identify themselves as living a mostly or completely green lifestyle (42% vs. 36%); however, women are more likely than men to purchase environmentally friendly housekeeping products (56% vs. 36%)
  • Women are more cost-conscious:Females are more likely than males (66% vs. 55%) to only consider buying green products if they cost the same or less compared to other products. More females than males (85% vs. 76%) consider green products to be more expensive than other items.
  • Leaving behind a sustainable legacy:Living a green lifestyle is more common among parents than non-parents (93% vs. 87%) and more parents than non-parents (92% vs. 87%) would buy environmentally friendly products.
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