Be wary of conspicuous conservation costs

Prius

Prius vehicles are one of the most often-cited examples of conspicuous conservation. Image: Flickr / paul_garland / CC-BY-SA

Saving money and saving the planet at the same time seems like a win-win situation. One problem, though, is that conspicuous conservation can end up costing you much more money than you will ever save.

The trend of conspicuous conservation

Called conspicuous conservation by economists, purchasing or taking actions that appear to be making the world better is a growing trend. While this would not necessarily be a bad thing, as it can be exploited to help improve adoption of environmental measures, which can be a negative thing. Conspicuous conservation can be best explained by the popularity of Prius vehicles; while the Prius is one of the best-selling hybrid vehicles on the market, it is far from the most efficient. The fact that the vehicle has a very recognizable shape makes it more conspicuous, and therefore it sells better.

The costs of conservation

There are many products on the market that can help with everything from energy conservation to food conservation. Many of these products, though, end up having associated costs that are simply more expensive than they need to be. Composting can be a great conservation move, but expensive composting bins are unnecessary and hundreds of dollars. Vehicles that get 35 miles to the gallon may be tempting, but if you have a car that is in good working condition and gets 28 miles to the gallon, buying a  new car may not be worth it. Not only would paying extra for the new car increase your cost, but the cost to the environment would also be much higher. Something that has already been manufactured and is being re-used is always a better choice for the environment and for your budget than buying something new.

[If you are facing an overdraft fee, than an installment loan can be a better option for your budget.]

How to make conservation work for you

If you are already planning on replacing an item, do consider purchasing something that is better for the environment. Keep in mind that the emotional impacts of a purchase are important, so if you would be happier buying something that is a bit conspicuous, then it is worth making that purchase. Just be sure to balance your happiness with the financial and emotional impacts of the purchase.

Sources

Huffington Post
Freakonomics Radio
The Society Pages

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