Don't Buy Into Greenwashing

Don't Buy Into Greenwashing

Companies may label their products as green or natural, but it doesn't mean much

Environmentally conscious consumers who opt for the natural versions of their favorite products might want to check their labels once more before making a purchase. While brands like Tom's of Maine and Burt's Bees may make you feel nice on the inside with their earth-toned packages and handwritten fonts, they're often no better for the earth or for you than their more corporate-looking counterparts. They're not even independently manufactured anymore; Burt's has been bought by Clorox and fans of Tom's are simply funneling their money over to Colgate-Palmolive. These Fortune 500 companies simply mark up the prices on the supposedly natural stuff, then pocket the money of people who have been tricked into thinking they're making the more sustainable consumer choice.

The truth is, there aren't any real criteria for buzz words like 'natural', 'green', or 'organic' on products like toothpaste or makeup. Organic food obviously must be grown without pesticides to bear the label, but there's no such requirement for organic deodorant. And there's certainly no minimum standard of environmentally friendly manufacturing for a product to be marketed as a green variant on an old classic.

Giant companies are simply surfing the green tide up to high profits by tricking consumers into feeling good about themselves. Your natural cosmetics in those sand colored bottles are as likely to be as full of chemicals and toxic additives as the regular stuff next to them on the shelf. Anything can be branded as natural. If consumers don't do their homework and read the fine print, they'll have no way of knowing the difference.

So how do you actually go about using green products in your home? Step one is just to buy less of everything. No matter how green or natural a product claims to be, it's still a product--likely packaged up in non-recycled plastic, then fitted inside a single-use cardboard box, then shipped hundreds of miles across the country on a huge truck. Instead of relying on big brands for your home supplies and personal care needs, try making your own. A little baking soda and vinegar or lemon juice will clean just about anything. Be sure to buy in huge containers to minimize plastic and paper waste, then use only what you need when you're getting down to cleaning your house or yourself. Tons of beauty products can be made with standard kitchen supplies, too. Save money and skip out on the 'natural' scam by taking your environmentalism into your own hands.