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An organic grocery store in Amsterdam, De Aanzet, has raised its prices to compensate for hidden costs of production and distribution. For much of the bread, fruit and vegetables they sell, they've worked with True Price to calculate what prices would be if all social and environmental costs were taken into account. Fruit pickers whose wages are too low, for instance, or air pollution caused by transporting flour to a bakery.
Price cards in the store break down those extra costs: added to the price of a cauliflower, for example, are €0.03 for underpaid wages, €0.06 for climate tax, €0.18 for land use and €0.01 for water. On a customer's receipt, that extra €0.28 is listed as 'verborgen kosten', or hidden costs, and added to the regular price. Since there isn't a way to distribute the surcharge directly to every person and environment negatively impacted by a specific item's production, De Aanzet will be supporting harm-reduction projects at two farms and donating to two NGOs: GiveDirectly and Land Life Company.
We realize that calculating the true price of every item in a large supermarket would be a gargantuan task. But if social and environmental costs remain hidden, they'll continue to pile up and future generations will foot the bill. Governments have been unwilling to pick up their regulatory role since the short-term political risks of raising prices outweigh the long-term benefits of a sustainable economy. In essence, that means we the people need to levy our own environmental and social taxes. Or at the very least: make those costs visible. Purpose-driven entrepreneurs: lead the way!
(And be sure to check out our 21 trends for 2021, which highlights carbon labelling as one of 21 carefully curated opportunities for the coming year.)
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