"How Much Does a New I-phone Cost?" | The Real Price of this Holiday's Hottest Gifts
How Many Trees Does an iPhone Cost? The Real Price of Consumption During the Holiday Season
"How much does the new i-mac cost? WHAT'S THE BEST PRICE I CAN GET THIS XBOX FOR??" In the past weeks or month you have probably heard someone say these exact words at a mall or on t.v; being honest with yourself, you may have said them yourself, or words just like them, subbing in a nice bracelet or the perfect pair of hiking boots for this season's hottest electronics. During the holidays, the Great American horned Beast that is our consumerist culture gets pumped full of steroids and goes on an adrenaline fueled killing spree from hell.
Satan Hath No Fury Like Black Friday Stampedes. (Graphic Content Warning)
Price vs. Cost of This Phone
Price: What a consumer is willing to pay for something.
Cost: What it takes for a society to produce something.
If you think the price tag on this phone is all it costs to make it, you are dead wrong.
Sometimes literally: lines at malls stretch so far and move so fast that for long spans of the year, it is perfectly acceptable and expected for human beings to be trampled to death in public places by other human beings in the name of saving a buck. These illustrations and countless others (from Black Friday to Cyber Monday to 24 Hour shopping weeks throughout December) highlight the nasty fact that America has truly forgotten the difference in the definitions of something's cost compared to it's price. When you get a great deal on a brand new coat or this season's hottest electronics, you may save big and get a good "price," but you do so at the grand "cost" of some very scary injustices. From destroying the rain forest to supporting criminally inhumane labor, the things we love to buy aren't always great for the world. Read on to see the real damage that some of this season's hottest products do to our planet with their tremendous costs, and consider what it means when we buy them.
Table of Contents
Listen to your favorite carol while you read, to avoid getting too depressed. It's the holidays after all.
The Real Cost of an iPhone 6
Price of an iPhone in Dollars: $774.99
Price of an iPhone in Greenhouse Emissions: 95 kg2 (Equal to Burning ~10.5 gallons of gas)
Price of an iPhone in Pounds of Ocean Trash: ~1 pound assuming correct recycling
Price of an iPhone in Dollars you Donate to a Foreign Dictator: ~$4.50
Price of an iPhone in Use of Child Labor: Yes. Child labor was used to make that phone.
Still want that iPhone 6? Go ahead. Buy it. Click the link to your right. No big deal.
The Real Cost of an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Price of a Kindle in Dollars: $99.00
Price of a Kindle in CO2 Emissions: 167 kg2 (Equal to Burning 18.9 gallons of gas)
Price of a Kindle in Pounds of Ocean Trash: ~1 pound assuming correct recycling
Price of a Kindle in Dollars you Donate to a Foreign Dictator: ~$3.50
Price on a Kindle in Use of Child Labor: Yes. Child labor was used to make that Kindle.
Hey, you don't just want a new Kindle: you NEED one! Why not? Buy one, Click the link to your right. No one is going to judge you for wanting a Kindle.
The Real Cost of a Diamond and Gold Pendant
Price of a Diamond and Gold Pendant in Dollars: $85.12
Price of a Diamond and Gold Pendant in Pounds of Waste Rock By-product and Toxic Waste Tailings: 3315.75 pounds
Price of a Diamond and Gold Pendant in use of Child Labor: Yes. Child labor was used to produce this pendant. Worse, child soldiers were likely killed to procure the gems in this sparkly gift.
Other Environmental Impact: When diamonds are mined, riverbeds get destroyed, which causes agricultural problems and subsequent starvation disasters. Some diamonds are mined directly from ocean floors, leading to immeasurable damage to the planet's fish and seas.
But hey, that necklace is beautiful. Buy it. CLICK THE LINK AND BUY IT. You aren't the first person to buy nice jewelry, and you won't be the last: just do it already.
The Real Cost of a New Rolex
Price of a Rolex in Dollars: $4000.00+
Price of a Rolex in Number of School Lunches a Rolex Could Buy: ~4000+
Price of a Rolex in Number of Days a Rolex Could Support an Impoverished Family of Four: ~60+ days
Price of a Rolex in Number of Children a Rolex Could Feed in a Developing Country for a Week: 800+
Jay-z wears one. Click the link and buy it. Why not.
The Real Cost of ________: What Buying Your Holiday Gift Means
It doesn't matter what is displayed in the box to the right: choose your favorite holiday gift, and step back and think about what it really means to buy whatever it is you love this holiday season. When you buy a gift from an online retailer or a major big-box store, you are partaking in our obsessive consumerist culture. Whatever it is you choose to buy, the cost of your purchase is going to be a lot more than whatever you see on that price tag. You need to consider what impact this product has on the environment, not only when you use it but when it is shipped to you, when it is manufactured, and when you dispose of it. You have to consider how this product impacts real people, both in the U.S. and abroad. You have to consider what we don't know yet about this product. Should you really buy it today, when it is fresh and new and it's negative externalities aren't fully known? Is it worth it to buy a holiday gift from a major chain or an online retailer, or any other retailer which gets it's products from the destructive international manufacturing chain?
By this point, I hope you know you shouldn't click that link and buy that holiday gift. By partaking in our consumerist culture this Holiday season, you are part of the problem. For the love of god, do not click that link.
Step away from the crowd. Don't buy that holiday gift without thinking about what it means, and what it really costs.
Redefining Price and Cost
Throughout this article, I tried to emphasize one thing: that the price tag on any item you buy doesn't represent its full cost. We have to consider a lot of scary and inhumane "side effects" that the things we buy produce. No matter what you purchase, there is a lot more than dollars and cents involved.
However, an astute observer will notice as well that I used these two words interchangeably at times. For example, in the title of this article. So what gives? Why do I spend so much time talking about "price" if the "cost" of an item is what we should really consider as a consumer?
The price-tag on any item represents it's monetary cost, but that dollar number doesn't come out of thin air. Companies charge an amount that we will pay. If we all thought long and hard about what it means to buy an iPhone, from the cost that an iPhone inflicts on the environment to the cost that phone's creation inflicts on real every day people, maybe one of two things would happen. Maybe an iPhone would be in lower demand and Apple would sell less and the price would drop, cutting Apple's profits. Or maybe Apple would need to make some major and real changes in order to attract costumers and keep profits up. If we all thought long and hard about the cost of a phone or a watch or whatever else we buy, and spent time really confronting what our consumerism costs, big things would change.
If we want to change the way companies create the things we buy, then we as a society need to think long and hard about the cost related to our favorite products, and vote with our dollars until an item's price represent's that cost. Did it make you uneasy to see the price in dollars put side by side with the cost in social injustice for the items above? Did you click any of the links? An item's price only represents what we are willing to pay for it. If we want to see justice in the world, we need to think about the way our consumerist culture supports the injustice we would fight against, and remember what things cost before we buy them.