Hooray, you're on the path of living a more eco-friendly and clean lifestyle. But with the store shelves lined with so many cleaning, food, health and beauty products to choose from, it makes it more difficult to figure out what's best for you and your family or if you're really helping save the earth.
The journey can be confusing and cutting through the marketing to truly find out if a product is clean can be even more difficult. And with all the terms..sustainable, eco-friendly, green, clean, and blue beauty, and with all greenwashing out there (yep it's a real thing), it's challenging.
The FDA doesn't control the word natural, green, sustainable, cruelty-free, eco-friendly, and honestly there isn't a concrete definition and is a slippery gray area.
What's It To Me
Green, natural, clean, sustainable, eco-friendly to me is to leave earth and my (your) body better than I found it. To not harm the environment or the animals in the process of creating products. To give back as much as I can, to replant trees where deforestation has occurred. To use organic ingredients and to steer clear of the overly processed ingredients that strip away all the phyto-chemicals that truly nurture your skin. Unfortunately, I get it. Don't worry I've got your back with some tips to make sure you're a well-informed consumer.
So what's greenwashing?
Basically greenwashing is fluffy language, suggestive images on labels, and telling you what's NOT in a product so you believe it's safer or better for you. It's a marketing gimmick to trick you into believing the product you're using is natural. Companies are spending Billions, with a B to appear more natural without REALLY doing the work to actually become green. Let me be the one to tell you..this is not fair to you.
Let me give you an example. You pick up a face wash at your local big box store that has a logo on it saying 100% natural but when you look closer it has in smaller print "exfoliants". That is greenwashing.
Or here's another one. You pick up a kitchen cleaner that has a big lemon on it but when you flip it over to read the label, lemon is nowhere to be found on the ingredient list. That is greenwashing.
Ugh, sad right. It really frustrates me. It should frustrate you too.
What's Fear Mongering?
Fear mongering is the action of intentionally trying to make people afraid of something when this is not necessary or reasonable.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Here's an example.
"Don't put chemicals on your body."
Water is a Chemical. Yep, so when a brand says I don't use chemical, you probably want to run for the hills.
A lot of household cleaners, health and beauty products like deodorants, skincare, and hair care products do contain some pretty harmful chemicals or ingredients that are causing cancer and disrupting your hormones. You just have to trust your gut, do your research to determine what ingredients you want to stay away from, and make sure you trust the brand. Dig deep.
Here's another example of fear mongering.
That statistic that's running around that says "X% of everything is absorbed by the skin." This statistic is just absurd. Not everything is absorbed into the skin and into the bloodstream. It totally depends on the weight of the molecule. Some molecules are too big to pass through the skin and other molecules are smaller that pass into the bloodstream.
Basically, the theme here is to get familiar with the labels and the brand. Luckily, the power of the internet makes this SO MUCH easier than ever before. If you're not sure what an ingredient is..look it up.
8 Best Ways to Avoid Greenwashing
- Flip over your product and read the label. Use your gut and intuition. If it feels wrong, then it probably isn't for you.
- Ignore the No.. When a company says No Preservatives. No Parabens. No This. No That. Think to yourself, are they trying to hide what they ARE putting into the product?
- Shop local farmers so you can actually talk to your farmer and ask them all the things you're curious about when it comes to your food that you put on your plate.
- Shop organic when you can. But again just because it says organic doesn't mean that the entire formula is organic. Sometimes this just isn't entirely possible (honey and salt are some ingredients that can't be classified as organic) and sometimes it is. You'll notice that I have identified which ingredients are organic in every Me Time Botanicals programs and even the % of organic ingredients in every product.
- Look for shorter ingredient lists.
- Rule of thumb..if you can't pronounce it, you probably shouldn't be putting it in or on your body unless you do your research.
- Talk to the brand and ask the hard questions.
- Shop Small. Oftentimes the smaller brands are spending more time and effort into ingredients and sourcing. But not all the time so always ask questions and do your research.
Living a more sustainable, clean lifestyle doesn't have to be complicated. The key takeaway here is to trust your gut. :)
It's a journey, a learning process. Don't stress about switching everything over all at once. Take baby steps, when you're finished with a particular product, make the switch then.
It's always a work in progress and give yourself grace.