Can Sustainable Shopping Go Hand in Hand with Affordability?

Shopping sustainably is an advocacy that today’s consumers embrace, yet the reality is that many do so only if they can afford the high cost of a green product. Generally, eco-friendly products come with higher price tags because they are more expensive to create. The real green deals are those that use hard-to-source materials and take longer to process, which means they cannot be mass produced. As a result, even if there is increased demand, the supply is low, which therefore equates to higher prices.

In many cases, manufacturers of products do not necessarily make sustainability and environment-friendly claims but simply commit to adopt environment-friendly practices and processes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and eliminate non-biodegradable wastes in the manufacture of their products. The most that they can so is to incorporate designs and features to make their product more energy-efficient as a way to meet the sustainability criteria.

However, these are not enough to make claims that their product is equally sustainable if not superior, lest the company be accused of merely green-washing their merchandise. Nevertheless, they can promote their product as a cheaper alternative to the more expensive 100% certified green products.

Green Living Report Revealed that Affordability Can Influence Decisions on Sustainable Shopping

A Harvard Business Review article published In August 2021 mentioned that a recent survey about green living revealed that 65% of those who responded said they want to purchase purpose-driven brands that promote sustainability. Yet the survey also revealed that only 26% actually followed through. Apparently, the rest preferred to buy the cheaper version offered by companies that simply institute eco-friendly practices in reducing their carbon footprint and impact on the environment.

Case Example: Microsoft Surface Pro vs Surface Pro Alternatives


Let’s take Microsoft’s Surface Pro series convertible 2-in-1 detachable computing devices as an example. A surface pro electronic device can be used as a laptop and a tablet that comes with a pressure-sensitive digital pen and back stand.

However, to own a surface pro device, a consumer has to shell out around $600 to $800 at the least. Mainly because the environment-friendly features of the product include software and hardware designs that comply with global sustainability requirements covering the entire life cycle of every surface pro device.

Surface Pro devices are compliant with all sustainability requirements, from packaging that observe heavy metal restrictions, to manufacturing processes, product composition and usage, supply chain management through end-of-life cycle management pertaining to recovery and reuse.

Actually, Microsoft’s series of pro surface tablets and laptops are gold-registered and certified as environment-friendly electronic product as ascertained by the EPA’s Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT).

Nevertheless, other laptop manufacturers came up with their own versions of the 2-in-1 convertible laptop and tablet device, whilst offering them as surface pro alternatives in the electronic devices market at nearly half the price of a Microsoft surface pro counterpart.


Lenovo for one, came out with the Lenovo Yoga Book as a decent and more affordable alternative to Microsoft’s surface pro.

Lenovo’s support for sustainability translates into different aspects of its business operations, such as the utilization of of renewable energy, use of biodegradable packing materials, including paying employees fair and equitable salary.

The comparison shows that buying affordable alternatives to the more expensive certified green products is still sustainable shopping, if the cheaper products are manufactured by companies that adhere to environment-friendly practices.