Why We Can't Afford To Buy Cheap

06/10/2017 16:12 BST | Updated 06/10/2017 16:12 BST

My grandmother, like so many others of her generation, used to have a saying when it came to her choices as a consumer, and it's stuck with me to this day.

"I can never afford to buy cheap."

Of course, she was talking about why buying more expensive goods would last longer than cheap ones destined to break, saving her cash in the long run.

But that phrase also has important repercussions when it comes to ethical or green practice for us all right now.

And if we want to protect our planet, we need to abide by them.

Bear this in mind: According to research by the United Nation's International Resource Panel, the global population, which is set to grow by 28%, is predicted to use 71% more resources per capita by 2050.

Without urgent steps to increase efficiency, the global use of metals, biomass, minerals - such as sand and other materials - will increase from 85 to 186 billion tonnes per year by 2050.

That increased level of production isn't good for emissions, and it won't be too clever when it comes to climate change, either.

So what can we do to help?

One thing is to move away from a culture of buying cheap without questioning where the product in your hand came from - or what it's doing to the environment as a whole.

And the good news is that things are slowly changing for the better.

More and more consumers understand the consequences of their consumption habits and therefore increasingly pay attention to the responsibility of their preferred companies and the brands they use in their purchasing decisions.

The raging debates about climate change, carbon offsetting, ocean pollution, human rights and child labour has made consumers more aware of the ecological, ethical and financial insecurity of our current consumption.

And it's vital we convince more to follow suit if we're going to move to a more sustainable future.

What we're seeing in some quarters is a new 'premium consumer' - who's not afraid to spend more money on an item if they know it's been ethically sourced and ethically produced.

We want to get people pay the premium price with a big smile on their face and be proud about it.

It's an ethos companies like my own have embraced.

For us, there's a reason our products - eco-friendly underpants - command a higher price than other undies on the shelves.

The material we use is not particularly cheap because of its origin; it's made from recycled materials, including salvaged ocean plastics and by-products of the manufacturing industry.

It's labour intensive.

Yet we also want to make a product that lasts, one that sticks two fingers up to modern 'throw-away-ism' habits.

And it's our hope that as more people start using this material in their own manufacturing, the price to the consumer will come down, making it even more appealing.

Let's say no to disposable culture and fast fashion and let's start thinking about the bigger picture.

Because if we don't, we'll all ultimately shoulder the cost.