You know what really boils my goat? OK, so that’s not even an expression, but I’m guessing a goat that’s about to be boiled is pretty ticked off. (Geez, poor goat….sorry for the visual, guys).
OMG. HATE IT! To no end, it annoys me. Beyond that, it actually saddens me. Why? Because greenwashing affects those who are trying to make a little difference in their lives by switching to products that are supposedly better for the environment or their health. They’ve heard the claims of potential health and environmental disasters that conventional products cause. The idea of using plant-based ingredients appeals to them. They reach for that cute bottle with the beige packaging, adorning leaves and marigolds, thinking that they too, can make the switch. They use the product, never bothering to check out the ingredients…actually believing the clever marketing on the front. The product smells nice, and works just the same as the one that replaced it. Ooooh, the lather! Goodness, it’s like a freakin’ Tahitian spa in the bathroom, so no harm no foul in trying this crazy, new-aged hippie stuff, right? Wrong. Harm! Foul! Red flag!
The ingredients list, the only trust-worthy area of any product, reveals the truth behind greenwashed products. Maybe there’s a few “active botanicals” in there. Maybe the ingredients are 50%, 20%, 1% better than the non-greenwashed version. Maybe there isn’t any difference at all, but only the ingredients list reveals what’s really going on inside the package.
Greenwashing dupes consumers in such a sick, conniving fashion…in a way that is no longer marketing, in a way that no longer plays fair by anybody’s account. It tricks people into buying the very poisons they are seeking to avoid. It is as sad and demented as doctor’s prescribing drugs for commission, or celebrity endorsements for products they would never allow near their bodies. It’s selling dangerous, crappy products with a drop of something natural in it (or sometimes just a synthetic fragrance that mimics a lily on steroids), to the very people who are actually trying to consciously make a healthier, safer choice.
This, to me, makes greenwashed beauty far more toxic than their conventional counterparts.
I’m not sure if the title is quoting my friend or myself (how gauche, right?), but that was the gist of a conversation we had last night over a dirty martini. It boiled down to the fact that it’s not ok to be ignorant about what goes into our food, personal products and home cleaning supplies, and being wasteful is just trashy. Ha! Pun totally intended.
Anyhow, to add a little more flavour to the already complex list of scams, now “fairwashing” is another phenomenon to look out for…as in, companies claim Fair Trade Certification, when indeed only a trace amount of ingredients, by weight, can be considered fair trade.
Check out this formal complaint from the Organic Consumers Association and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps regarding Queen Helene and Mark by Avon’s false fair trade certifications.
There’s no hiding the fact that being “green” is a huge trend (Hello, Greenwashing). As consumers become more aware of the impact that their lifestyles have on the environment, the more they feel guilt about the plastics they use, the chemicals they spray, flush or use on their bodies, or the potential harm they may be inflicting on themselves and their loved ones. With something “potentially carcinogenic” popping up every other day, and new reports on toxins scaring the bejesus out of the public, trying to do their right thing for you and your family’s health and the environment becomes more pressing, but even harder to achieve.
Most cosmetic companies LOVE the fact that it’s easy to instill fear and guilt on the consumer, and try to win your trust by claiming their products are natural. Sadly, an estimated 98% of “natural” products in the US are using misleading claims in order to boost sales.
Ninety. Eight. Percent. People! Outrageous, isn’t it?
But how do they go about tricking consumers? Easy. Some of the ways that cosmetic companies try to fool the consumer is by using irrelevant claims, fake certifications, presenting “fact” without proof, or using vague terms such as “all natural” and sadly, even “organic”.