What in the world is greenwashing? If this term is news to you, I can promise the effects of it are not.
Greenwashing is when a company uses marketing techniques to sell you the idea that they are an eco-friendly or green business. Naturally we all want to live a little greener and companies like to play on that to sell us their products.
For example, a grocery store runs a huge campaign about how green they are because they recycle plastic bags. When in reality, the best thing the grocery store could do is stop offering plastic bags in the first place!
Honestly, greenwashing makes me so upset! Companies are preying on innocent consumers that are trying to do better for their health but may not know any better. It’s so misleading and wrong!
These companies can get away with this because there are basically zero laws or regulations around a lot of claims like “natural”. It’s disturbing but there is no regulation for claims made on a product’s label. You can read it clear as day on the FDA’s website. The FDA will only step in when products claim to prevent disease or effect the structure or function of the body.
Common Signs of Greenwashing
If you see some of these terms on the front label of a product, that should automatically trigger you to be skeptical. If the bottle says shea butter and essential oils and you turn the bottle over and can’t find the two ingredients listed until the very end, they are stretching the truth. I have listed a few of the common buzzwords they tend to use but are unregulated and can be used by anybody with no real meaning:
Organic (if you see the term organic, look for a certification to make sure it’s actually organic!)
Major Brands that Greenwash
I encourage you to do further research if you use any of these brands! They all fall on different parts of the spectrum as far as greenwashing goes.
Figure out where you want to draw the line and what ingredients you are okay with using yourself. I personally am not comfortable with some of these brands and their marketing and how it stacks up to their ingredients.
The Body Shop
Burt’s Bees (bought out by Clorox)
Clairol Hair Food
Kiss My Face
Neutrogena Pure & Free
Nivea Pure & Natural
OGX or Organix
Raw Sugar Living
You might be shocked by some of these! That’s why greenwashing is so sneaky. The Think Dirty app is a great resource to use when researching products.
How To Spot a True Natural Product
After everything I just covered this probably feels as if an impossible task. But there are a lot of really great natural – green brands out there with products that you’re going to love. I have a few personal guidelines that I follow when trying to select a new product and figured they would help you when you’re on the hunt for some new products of your own!
- Decide if you feel their “green marketing” is a little too much
So now that you know some terms to look out for and some brands that are common culprits, how can you continue to spot greenwashing and avoid it? Here’s some advice:
Don’t just assume something is truly natural because there’s a pretty sticker on the front label that claims so.
- Spend time reading the ingredient list
Research ingredients until you know what’s safe and up to your standards to use. Find what level of green you are comfortable with. Be skeptical and ask questions! Who owns this company? Are they owned by a big corporation? Where do they source their ingredients? Are they trying to hide something? Are the ingredients hard to find? etc. Support smaller, independent, or local brands as much as possible.
Do you have any tips you use when looking for natural green products?