Paying the true price for a better world

Now open every Saturday in the heart of the famed Amsterdam shopping district Haarlemmerdijk, True Price Store is offering products “free from poverty, exploitation, pollution, destruction and climate change”, according to Michel Scholte, director of external affairs for the social enterprise True Price.

The store will begin by selling coffee, chocolate and bread, before expanding its repertoire and opening hours. Meanwhile, the store hopes to already stand as an example to other retailers, restaurants and supermarkets, encouraging them to follow suit. “We’re starting locally before going global,” Scholte says.

The true – and fair – cost…

Founded in 2012 and based in Amsterdam, True Price Store works globally with an international client base – that includes many international companies, banks, the Dutch government and Wageningen University – to create the Global True Price Standard. The idea is to find the true price of products by factoring in their social and environmental costs.

True Price Store Shoppers

A customer shops for different items at True Price Store on the Haarlemmerdijk

Addressing social and environmental impacts on the road to sustainability

So, what is the true price of goods? “It differs per product,” explains Scholte. “We show what a product actually costs society in addition to the market price. For example, jeans here cost €40 plus €33 more, a t-shirt cost €15 plus €8, a chocolate bar €2.79 plus 90 cents, a café latte €3.50 plus 25 cents, and a loaf of bread €3.25 plus 18 cents.”

“At this moment we, only voluntarily charge a small part of that: the costs for climate change and underearning of farmers. And this money is then redirected to reforestation and supporting the extreme poor. However, this is just a part of the total true price gap,” says Scholte.

“We still need to not only improve these remediations, but also address 29 other social and environmental impacts, including water, soil, air and the treatment of workers,” says Scholte.

“Only then will we have a truly sustainable product.”

True Price store first purchase

Workers at True Price Store celebrate their first sale

Building a movement with cafes, stores, supermarkets and restaurants

Scholte stresses True Price Store is not a mere pop-up. “Our purpose is to build a movement in which other cafes, stores, supermarkets and restaurants copy this: to offer voluntary payments of the true price,” says Scholte. “For example, they can join what we call the ‘Blue Crates Movement’ where they adopt a blue shopping crate with true priced products – many of which are made in Amsterdam.” 

“We really want to represent the beautiful Haarlemmerdijk as a shopping street in which many stores work on sustainability. But we’re also working with people all over the city. For example, the restaurant Cirlc in ZuidAs is working on a true price menu card, the health food supermarket De Aanzet in De Pijp will soon have blue crates, and Bakker van Vessem in the Rivierenbuurt will soon offer true price bread,” says Scholte.

“Our end goal is to have every product with a true price, so that we can use consumption and production to contain the crises around climate, biodiversity and poverty.”

Read more news stories on sustainability and Amsterdam.