In a world where pretty much everyone and everything is going green, it’s sometimes tricky to decipher the ‘real’ from the ‘not so real’. How many times have you lingered far too long in the skincare aisle? One product in each hand, trying to read the small print and determine which is less-toxic, and less chemical ridden than the other!? We’ve all been there… It becomes even more important to us when we have our little ones and are searching for genuine organic baby products.
There is no strict legislation around the use of words such as natural, organic, or eco. So we often find ourselves in a bit of a spin when it comes to making purchasing decisions. Some of these properties, such as chemical free or eco-friendly, are great and certainly beneficial (for both us, and the environment!). However, they are no real match for being truly certified organic…
These deceptive tags can often come with high prices, and really, we want to know what we are getting when we part with our hard-earned buck.
Organic vs Certified Organic
Here in Australia, we have the ‘Australia Certified Organic’ logo, particularly useful when it comes to food shopping. This is the 100% guaranteed way to identify organic produce, and know that those ‘all natural’ ingredients really are just that. The ‘always look for the bud’ campaign ensures us that these products are independently certified to national and international standards for organic production.
Internationally, GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) is the world leading organic textile processing standard. GOTS looks at the whole chain of custody, from harvesting right up to labelling of the product. This way, if something is GOTS certified, you know you’ve truly got your hands on the real deal. The journey from the fibre, right through to the customer is scrutinised for social, environmental, and chemical adherence.
How to spot ‘greenwashing’
But aside from these standards, how can you spot greenwashing? Your ears may prick up at the very mention of it. Or you may be wondering what is this ‘greenwashing’ (other than that load of whites you washed yesterday that had a green sock hidden amongst them!)?
Greenwashing is when consumers are deceived into thinking a product is more environmentally friendly than it really is. There is a whole spectrum of these shades of green.
Sometimes it can be spending significantly more money on advertising being ‘green’, than is actually spent on the green practices themselves. Or advertising a product as environmentally friendly purely by making images look more eco-friendly (with no attempt to change the impact of the production). Or entering green schemes, and only meeting very minimum requirements to be able to gain the stamp of approval.
With greenwashing, things to look out for include:
- Lack of proof. We need evidence, easily accessible, and available solid evidence.
- Hidden trade-offs. Focusing on a narrow set of green criteria, and not looking at the overall potential negative impact of a product.
- Use of vague terms such as ‘all natural’, or ‘green.’ Just because it may be all natural, doesn’t mean it’s all good!
- False labelling. Making something look eco-friendly by drawing a tree on it (for example), or making up ‘fake’ internal accreditations and standards.
- Boasting about nothing. Irrelevant claims, often of standards they have to meet by law.
- Straight out fibbing!
As consumers, we’re demanding more transparency, and speaking up when it comes to wanting to do better. Better for ourselves, our families, and our planet. There is even a website dedicated to this greenwashing…
Greenwashing Index a place to post adverts and rate them as a little green lie through to 100% false advertising. As a consumer you want to know what you are buying. Though it seems we cannot rely on the media and marketing to give us the information we need. You probably have to do a bit of your own legwork first. To play devil’s advocate… are we just too busy to spend time looking into things for ourselves, or too lazy to research before we purchase? Or are we simply just too gullible?!
Caroline is a Perth mum to two premmie babes now 3.5 years and 6 months old. With tricky starts to life for both (and to motherhood!), Caroline has researched, tried and tested many natural, organic products to find those that are good for her babes and the environment too. Her biz, Avidiva, showcases her passion for stylish, but natural goodies and organic baby products (no greenwashing here!).
Avidiva is an online store for mamas and babes offering all natural, non-toxic products and gifts. A place to grab a teether for bub, treat yourself to a scrub, or send a gift box to a pregnant bestie. You can find her on Facebook and @avidivababy on Instagram or swing by the site at www.avidiva.com.au.
Wholehearted Family Health and Avidiva have a business relationship.