If you're looking for green products that are free from harmful ingredients, you've probably found yourself feeling overwhelmed in a store aisle somewhere or while browsing through a website trying to compare products. There are thousands of claims about ingredients and manufacturing processes, as well as all kinds of logos, which can confuse anyone. How can you find and choose products that respect your values? A feat that is becoming increasingly difficult due to greenwashing.
What Is Greenwashing?
Greenwashing, also known as green sheen, is a marketing practice that consists of making consumers believe that a product is environmentally friendly, when in fact it is not. The term first appeared in the 90s to denounce companies who promoted their progress in sustainable development, when in fact they had not taken any real eco-responsible actions. The term greenwashing comes from the word brainwashing and was adapted to the ecological and environmental sectors.
With misleading logos, catchphrases, and questionable labelling practices, some companies are trying to fool consumers with the promise of offering them eco-friendly products. Unfortunately, more and more people fall into the trap, because they are not getting proper information on the subject. Their ideal target? People looking to make greener choices and will, therefore, prefer these products to the more "traditional" ones. This issue is twofold: consumers are being manipulated while environmental benefits are nonexistent.
How to Be Sure You're Making Eco-Friendly Choices?
The first step in making sure you choose the right products is definitely research. The more you know about the various certifications, ingredients, and products, the better you will understand all the facts in order to make a more informed decision.
Avoid products that make vague promises like "eco-responsible," "natural”, or "green”, without providing evidence of what they are doing. If the product is uncertified or if its list of ingredients seems suspicious, there is likely something wrong. As for certifications specifically, although some are awarded to companies in the cosmetic industry, some require relatively high annual contributions, which smaller brands are not always able to afford. Even if a product is uncertified, it does not mean that it is bad. Your best ally is once again your research.
What to Buy in a Nutshell
In addition to research, a winning strategy is to buy products that contain a short list of ingredients with names you can actually understand. If possible, choose simple, local and organic ingredients.
It is usually very easy to contact small companies in order to find out more about their manufacturing process or where their ingredients are sourced from. It's your right as a consumer to ask questions, so don’t hesitate.
The more people ask questions, the more these companies will have to comply with consumer demands and make choices that are in line with current values. By asking questions, we can slowly make a difference.
To Sum It Up
Unless you’re well informed about certifications and labels that apply in the health and cosmetic fields, choose the most basic products as much as possible. Look for simple and short lists featuring ingredients you know. When in doubt, do your research and do not hesitate to contact companies directly. Smaller companies will be thrilled by your interest and they will be happy to answer your questions. Have fun shopping!