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Greenwashing 101

When companies make claims that their products are environmentally friendly, when in fact, they are not, it’s on the rise and its becoming more and more difficult for people to protect themselves.

When it comes to beauty product, you see the words “natural” on many products out there, the problem is there are no regulations in place when it come to this word, a company can literally come up with a products and decide to stick the words natural on it – the other issues is that many people confuse the word "natural" with the word "organic." A product may have natural ingredient in it, like cucumber or berries – these ingredients may or may not be grown organically, in most cases the ‘natural’ ingredients make up very little of the overall ingredients which are usually petrochemicals that are really harmful to you health. If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, don’t buy the product

Read the label. If you see words like TALC or PEG, avoid the product.

Also avoid: myreth, oleth, laureth, ceteareth, any other “eth,” PEG, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, poly- oxyethylene, or oxynol.

www.cosmeticsdatabase.org

Another example is sunscreen, there are companies claiming that its better for you, has an enviro guard, but if you see  oxybenzone on the label, there is noting natural about the product, look for sunscreen that do not contain this ingredient. 

You really need to do your homework before you take these items into your home. If you buy this product, you have been greenwashed.

Here is another word that is used and slapped on products all the time, there are a few things you need to know, first off, organic means that a plant is not genetically modified in any way and its grow without the use of herbicides and pesticides. Again companies are using this term very loosely. In many cases when you see the word organic on a label it does not state how much of a given ingredients in actually organic, in many cases, its one ingredients mixed in with a bunch of really nasty toxins. The only way to protect yourself is to look for 3rd party certification labels, this ensure that the organic ingredients are 95% or more. There are no regulations in place so again you need to so your homework, if you see labels with an organic claims, and are unsure, call the company and ask them how much and which ingredients are in fact organic.

If a company has an organic claim on a product with no third party certification, do not buy it.

For laundry detergent, first off, if you see the words “phosphate free” don’t get too excited, the industry phased this mineral out ages ago, so this claim really has no bearing. Also, if it says “cold water” wash, yes that’s good, it will save you energy, but don’t be fooled as this has noting to do with being toxic free or natural.

Companies are not required to put ingredients on the labels, so in this department you need to be extra vigilant, these websites will help:

www.naturalnews.com/028846_laundry_detergents_dioxane.html

www.consumersearch.com/fabric-softeners

www.ecochildsplay.com/2011/11/17/dirty-secrets-of-common-cleaners-revealed/

www.organicconsumers.org/bodycare/ShoppersSafetyGuide.pdf

www.womensvoices.org/science/fact-sheets/dirty-secrets/

www.goodguide.com/products/280321-palmolive-pure-clear-sparkling

When it comes to food, only food items that have 95% or more organic content can claim to be organic, here you need to place close attention to 3rd party certification labels. You need to make sure the certification label is legitimate.

If you see claims like “originally grown” – organically raised, organically fed. You need to be weary of those labels if there is not certification. To be organic, companies must meet strict regulations, problem is no one is placing it so it’s up to the consumer to do their homework, if you eat meat the best way to protect yourself is to connect directly with a local famer.

Free run (or cage-free) you see this on eggs, meat and poultry
No one polices this one, but the birds are supposed to be allowed to run around large open-concept barns. Wire mesh floors, and no sunshine for these guys. They may or may not have litter in which to scratch and dust-bathe, and they may or may not be overcrowded.

Next, we move to the term "natural" in food products, this is actually regulated in Canada, but again there is not one ready available to police it and companies take advantage of that all the time. The stipulations are also very broad and allow companies to be a little sneaky. In Canada for example a company cannot label a product natural if it contains preserving agents know as "nitrates and "nitrites." However if they use cultured celery extract – which produces nitrates and nitrites – they can slap the label on, but it's very disingenuous and studies have shown that nitrates and nitrites can cause cancer or liver damage no matter where they come from.  You see cultured celery extract on almost all deli meats that are labeled “natural.”

When it comes to poultry – free of hormones and free antibiotic does in no way mean that the meat is organic, so keep that in mind, in addition, in Canada all meat, except beef, legally cannot be injected with hormones, so a label that claims to be hormone free on anything other than beef, and means absolutely nothing. It also does not say whether the feed is in fact organic or conventionally grown. It’s important to note that independent tests have shown that even chicken that is supposed to be drug free has shown up in lab tests that drugs are present. So again, the best way to obvious this is to connect to a farm or grocery store you trust.
 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

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