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There are  new products on the market, claiming to be “organic”, “green” and “eco-friendly”.  But there are no legal meanings to these terms, so put whatever you want on the label, there is no law to stop you.  No testing required.  A product label with “natural ingredients” could include very little, if anything, from natural sources.

It’s called “Greenwashing” and it’s abundant in the United States. Even in places we trust, in our local Health Food Stores, there are products that claim to be “all natural” or “earth-friendly”, trying to appeal to our desires for safer products. Caveat Emptor: Let the Buyer Beware.

Even as informed consumers, it is easy to get tricked and confused.  It’s impossible to know all the ingredient names, and what they do, and how they affect us. Furthermore, the manufacturers of all our cleaning and beauty products are NOT required to disclose anything!  The FDA does not regulate our cosmetic industry, they turned their heads years ago and made it a self-regulated industry.

Here’s an example comparing a product just released:

Here are the ingredients in a hand lotion just introduced and marketed as “organic”:

Aqua (water), cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, brassica campestris oleifera (rapeseed oil), gluconolactone, sodium benzoate, phenethyl alcohol, glyceryl caprylate, xanthan gum, polysor- bate 60, glycerin, sesamum indicum (sesame seed oil), lecithin, sodium citrate, allantoin, panthenol, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba seed oil), tocopherol (vitamin e), polysorbate 20, lavandula angustifolia (lavender oil), rosmarinus officialis (rosemary oil), mentha arvensis (cornmint oil), cinnamomum camphora (camphor oil), citrus aurantium (orange oil).

The first few ingredients are key, they tell the story quite well. It contains mostly water and alcohol in it, as they are listed as the first 2 ingredients.  The ingredients that MIGHT be considered good, the lavender, rosemary, jojoba seed oil…well, first they are listed very LOW in the list and second, none of them are listed as “organic”.  There are also many chemical fillers among their ingredients that I would question.

While the FDA doesn’t regulate products, there is a certification for true “organic” ingredients.  If their ingredients were certifiably organic, I’m certain they would mention that on the label, and include the USDA certification image.

We, as consumers, have the power to enforce change.  Learn to read ingredients, look up personal care products on www.cosmeticsdatabase.com and www.greenerchoices.org, and do an internet search for the MSDS sheets on cleaners.  You can find out the names and properties of the ingredients in your everyday products and the hazards associated with them.

Find a company that is affordable with quality, genuinely organic products that you can trust.  Stick with them.  No matter who you choose, make sure it’s ingredients are all truly safe and effective, and you will have beaten the Greenwash Bug.