Economists define ‘luxury goods’ as those items that are used in greater quantity as income goes up. Take for example designer purses- the more income an individual has the more likely that individual will purchase a Gucci purse. Someone who makes a million dollars a year is far more likely to use her resources to buy an expensive purse versus a student who is working part time in a library. But if that student gets a huge increase in income, the chances that a designer purse (or any luxury good for that matter) will be purchased rises.
If environmentalism is actually a luxury good, the assertion is then made that individuals and nations that have wealth are far more likely to be concerned about the environment than poorer individuals and nations. If your immediate concern is simply feeding your family, you’ll be less likely to be sensitive of the sustainability of the type of food you’re providing.
That isn’t to say that there is a greater emphasis of value of the environment by those with wealth, rather, environmental concerns simply aren’t as pressing in decisions made by those without a great deal of disposable income.
As I ponder this idea of environmental awareness as a luxury good I’m (or course) inclined to think about used office furniture. There aren’t a lot of assets that I can think of that satisfy both the budget minded, and green minded consumer as used office furniture can do. We’re able to provide a service that is inherently green in its execution, as well as provide a good that isn’t carrying a great premium, where a consumer is forced to decide between saving money or saving the environment.
The opposite of luxury goods are called ‘inferior goods’. These are things that we buy more of as income goes down (think of ramen noodles for example). Inferior goods are, typically inferior. Typically there is a big trade off associating with the consumption of inferior goods (think of ramen noodles vs. handmade pasta), we’re forced to downgrade to something with less cost if we have less income. Used office furniture doesn’t work like that- usually the customer receives something of greater value with the built in advantage of an environmentally wise move.
By considering used office furniture, the customer is able to invest in a luxury good (environment) without the typical associated costs. This is a unique situation that should give pause to the consumer who is shopping for their work place.