What is it exactly? Greenwashing is something that has been happening for a long time, without many of us even knowing about it (or even what it means). For those of you that don’t know what I am talking about let me give you the Wikipedia explanation of the term.
Greenwashing efforts can range from changing the name or label of a product to evoke the natural environment on a product that contains harmful chemicals to multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns portraying highly polluting energy companies as eco-friendly.
One of the reasons I started my business Buff & Polish Natural Body Scrubs was because I wanted to offer a truly natural product. In 2014, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and one of the first things I did was throw out my make up bag contents and all of my personal toiletries, and go out shopping for natural replacements. What I discovered shocked and angered me. So many companies out there use clever marketing to lure us, the consumer, into believing we are purchasing a natural product.
So what should you look out for and be aware of when purchasing products?
First of all look at the packaging. There are various techniques used. Pictures derived from nature, leaves, flowers, and animals for example. Particular packaging colours that invoke assumptions of natural contents i.e. green or brown. Recycled packaging.
Next, take note of the wording used. You will often see some of the following phrases used on products. Try not to use these words and phrases as your only decision maker in purchasing a product. These words are often misleading and not entirely true.
- Made with Lavender
- Contains natural ingredients
- Made with organic ingredients
- Chemical free
- Preservative free
- Dermatologist approved
- Plant based
- Eco Friendly
You now need to ignore all the pretty packaging and read the actual ingredients list. Unfortunately, this is where it can get tricky because lets be honest, the majority of us are not scientists. We probably don’t understand what each ingredient is. But there are a few things you can do.
First of all, apply the rule, the fewer ingredients the better.
Look for an app that you can download onto your smart phone that will enable you to scan a product and get information about the ingredients. Think Dirty is a good one, with over 200,000 products listed. To use the app, you can type in a product name or scan its barcode. Then, you receive ratings for each ingredient’s carcinogenicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and allergenicity and immunotoxicity. The app also generates an overall rating on its DirtyMeter.
By arming yourself with this knowledge and these simple tips you should be well on your way to spotting a green imposter.
But, it’s not all bad news. I switched nearly all of my products to natural alternatives a few years ago and have discovered so many amazing, truly natural brands. I am always keen to spread the word on some of these so here are a few that I use.
- Edible Beauty
- Rosehip Plus
- Organic Shop
- Dr Bronners
Buff and Polish’s range of body scrubs are toxin free, vegan friendly and cruelty free. They’re handmade in small batches using only natural ingredients – including the highest quality 100% pure essential oils. You can shop their full range of gorgeous products HERE.