When green isn’t really green – how not to fall for ‘greenwashing’

Ever picked up a beauty product thinking it was 100% organic and natural, only to notice that it contains a long list of suspiciously chemical-sounding ingredients? If your answer’s ‘yes’ then chances are you’ve been ‘greenwashed’.

More and more of us want high quality products that are good for us and the planet alike. And many companies are stepping up to meet the growing demand by investing in green technology, adopting sustainable farming practices and sourcing high quality natural ingredients. Unfortunately, some others are merely investing in marketing ploys that make their products sound greener than they are.

1. What is greenwashing?

‘Greenwashing’ is when a company makes intentionally false or misleading claims about the green credentials of their products. And when it comes to beauty products it’s shockingly easy to get away with it. Unlike organic food (for which very strict regulations are usually in place) a shampoo bottle or a cleanser can say ‘organic’ on the label even if it contains only 1% of organic ingredients.

Similarly, there are no legal standards or rules that determine at what point a moisturiser or a bar of soap can be called ‘natural’, ‘botanical’, ‘eco-friendly’, ‘pure’ and so on. We’re also sometimes mislead by statements such as ‘paraben free’, which is on the label to distract us from spotting the other potentially toxic ingredients in the formula.

2. Navigate the label jungle

So how can we avoid the cheap and synthetic masquerading as sustainable and natural and get the real deal?

Spot the logo

Companies have the option of going through a certification process to prove that their formulations are genuinely sustainable (and those serious about their green credentials, like AEOS, are likely to have done so). The quickest way to suss out if a product is truly green or not is to look out for the logo of a recognised and independent certification body on the packaging.

What’s really in the bottle?

Many of us are already in the habit of perusing the ingredients list when we shop for food, so it’s fairly easy to extend that habit to our beauty buys too. While a label may contain soothing claims about the purity of the ingredients, a quick glance through the list at the back can clarify if that’s really the case.

Speak up

What if you spot a ‘green’ product that is in fact anything but? Or are wondering why a company that seems genuine hasn’t been independently certified yet? Pick up the phone, or get in touch with the company in question via email or social media. One person speaking up may seem like a drop in the ocean, but the more of us that make it clear we want genuinely sustainable products with clear labelling, the more likely we are to get it!

  1. The AEOS way

The desire to be a genuine force for good in the world has always been at the heart of our operations from the very beginning of AEOS. Creating our skincare and beauty formulations in harmony with nature every step of the way is a non-negotiable aspect of being in the beauty business for us. It just comes naturally to us, you could say…

And when we say ‘organic’, we truly mean it. Our very own Shire Farm, where the majority of our ingredients are grown, is certified by Demeter International, one of the leading independent certification bodies for organic and biodynamic agriculture.

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