Cheap and Green


I often read blogs reviewing and recommending eco-products.  I usually find that the product either is only eco-branded; meaning that it looks like a green product, but dig a little deeper and it’s just a standard product with some great packaging.  Or maybe it really is a great product, but it’s so expensive I just wouldn’t buy it for myself.  Why is it that eco-products tends to have fewer ingredients, but will also tend to be more expensive?  I guess better quality ingredients cost more, but that isn’t always true.  My friend has a theory that the more expensive the product the more we are likely to think the product should be amazing.  If it were to be inexpensive, the product would appear to be junk.  Maybe that’s true, but it’s annoying for this eco-girl on a budget.


I’m picking a random example-


Priced at $21-$31 per candle, they are pretty pricey.  These candles are made of soybeans grown in the USA.  American grown soybeans are probably better than other countries where soybean agriculture is blamed for de-forestation and endangered animal habitat loss.  However, most of the soy grown is genetically modified and 80% of it is destined to be used as cheap food for livestock.  Soy is cheap, and so is soy wax.  It’s one of the cheapest options out there, so why is the candle so pricey?

Inevitably I start thinking that I can just make candles myself in a much more eco-friendly economical way.  In the past I went to the local candle making store and bought all the supplies I needed.  This time I decided I could be even more eco-thrifty minded.  I asked friends and family to save me the wax from candles that they had burned.  I also posted on craigslist that I wanted to start a small wax recycling program.  Within a few months I had a large box full of wax and jars.


I jimmied up a double boiler with a pot and a frying pan and started melting waxes to make the colours I wanted.  When the wax was between 180-200 degrees, I’d add the scent oil and pour the wax into jars.  Pop in the wick and the candle is pretty much done.  I decided against buying jars and cleaned out old candle containers and mason jars.

So far I have made about 10 candles, and have used about half of the wax.  The wax and jars were free, the wicks were $2 for 25, the fragrances were about $20 for about 15 half used bottles purchased off craigslist.  For the cost of one eco-candle, I can make 20 candles, and I have stopped a heap of stuff from going into a landfill.  I also have a fully stocked candle cupboard, and I have a stockpile of emergency Christmas gifts!  I think in comparison to my candles, eco-candles aren’t very eco at all.


If you have eco-thrifty projects on the go I’d love to hear about them!