Learn the Greenwashing Secrets of 13 Major Companies

Organic . . Allnatural . . Chemicalfree . . Nontoxic . . Ecofriendly

These are some of the many buzzwords that marketers are using to grab the attention of a growing market of health minded consumers.

But what actual merit do these buzzwords hold?

It’s definitely a landscape that can be confusing and overwhelming.

With so many things to consider when at the grocery store (diets,budget,waste,etc), I’m here to arm you with the facts. Let’s learn about greenwashing.

  1. Some of the most deceptive products out there that you should definitely avoid.
  2. What to look for when shopping for toxin-free and eco-friendly consumer goods.
  3. How to avoid getting duped by false marketing ploys.

Nestle’s “No GMO Ingredients” Seal

pink rubber-gloved hands injecting something into a tomato
the greenwashing secrets of Nestle

I think most already know of at least one reason to avoid purchasing products from this sketchy company. There are several ploys they have tried over the years.

Their new “no gmo ingredients” label is just their latest money-hungry ploy to jump on the “real food” bandwagon. The problem is, it truly means nothing. They are still using ingredients that I would not feed my kids.

If you are looking for products that are truly non-gmo, they must have the official non-gmo verified label on them. You know, the one with the butterfly. All other attempts to make a gmo-free claim simply can’t be trusted.

Nestle has included this false seal on many of its products; including fruit popsicles, Coffeemate creamers, Lean Cuisine frozen meals and other items that they sell to unknowing consumers. All of these products likely, at the very least, contain ingredients that are connected to gmos through diet. For example, milk coming from cows that are fed gmo grains.

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Perdue’s Harvestland “All Natural” Chicken Label

several chickens perched on a fence
Perdue chickens are involved in greenwashing

I have even fallen for this one recently, so that tells you just how sneaky it is. It’s that nature-oriented packaging, and all the distracting yet meaningless green labeling that make it seem like a safe product.

The truth is, all-natural means nothing other than the chicken doesn’t include added artificial ingredients. Hormone-free is also irrelevant because that category includes every damn chicken on the market. Yeah, it’s not allowed at all, so how sneaky is that?

What Perdue’s Harvestland chicken can’t say is that it is antibiotic-free, or fed with non-gmo grains.

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Mom’s Best Cereals

wheat next to a mug of cereal and a few bags of grains
some cereals involve greenwashing

What once fooled me with this cereal is the simple fact that it was located in my store’s organic food section, right next to the Kashi and Cascadian Farms brands I trust. So I grabbed it and took it home for my cereal-loving kids.

But then one day I took a closer look and noticed that the product is not actually USDA organic. On top of that, some of their recipes include corn syrup. So we are no longer buying that brand.

Natural Lay’s Potato Chips

several potato chips floating and resting in a yellow background
Natural Lay’s Potato Chips involves greenwashing

Several years back, Lay’s potato chips decided they were going to get in on the green money-making scheme. All of a sudden you see this earthy brown packaging, the word “natural,” and chips of a thicker texture. Yet you flip to the ingredients and all you see is the same old list. Nothing has changed, only their marketing image.

Lush

Lush Cosmetics tries really hard to come across as a company focused on providing safe, natural products in the beauty arena. They don’t test on animals, participate in environmental causes, and their presentation often makes them look toxin-free enough to eat.

But then there is the other side. Lush also uses a ton of artificial fragrances in their products that are easily experienced as they waft out their stores. They use artificial preservatives, including parabens. And though at first glance, their displays may seem low waste; associates tend to encase them in plastic upon purchase.

In fact, The Environmental Working Group scores their products as some of the worst on the market for toxic ingredient composition.

a beauty jar open, lid strewn aside, leaves and various colorful flower petals scattered about strategically
Greenwashing is common in the beauty industry

The Body Shop

This is another popular beauty products company that appears more natural than what lies underneath. While they do actually use Fair Trade, natural ingredients in some of their products, many others contain a boatload of chemicals with just a smidgeon of botanicals added in.

This company also overuses plastic packaging.

Origins

two unique old trees standing together during a sunset
Green product imagery can portray greenwashing

The packaging for this beauty brand says it all. Two lush, green trees. Their image conjures up natural and organic, as does their wording. The company claims to include organic ingredients in their products, which they do to some extent. But take a look at some of the chemicals listed in the ingredients for their Age Defense moisturizer:

Glycol, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, PEG-100 Stearate , Glyceryl Stearate, Ascorbyl Tocopheryl Maleate , Oryzanol, Ergothioneine, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Cetyl Alcohol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Linoleic Acid, Squalane, Sodium Hyaluronate, Caprylyl Glycol, Dehydroxanthan Gum, Silica, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Sodium Stearate, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Phenoxyethanol

Personally, I would never buy a product in this store, with a composition like this. EWG supports my view.

Aveeno

Though Aveeno’s Active Naturals product line claims to contain ingredients derived from nature; these sparse natural ingredients are simply mixed in along with a multitude of chemical ingredients that really aren’t that safe for us. So, yeah, I would highly recommend finding a better method for treating that eczema.

Aveda

Aveda is another sly one. They definitely come across as one of the more natural skin care alternatives out there . Environmentally, with their recycled packaging and their use of wind power, I’ll admit they are doing a lot right.

The problem comes when you take a closer look at their ingredients. In many ways, they aren’t much better than your average drugstore varieties. They also make use of palm oil that contributes to the deforestation of the Amazon.

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“Green” Mattresses

a white mattress with a plush pillow and a brown teddy bear lying on top
Be aware of greenwashing when buying a mattress

The mattress category is one of the most confusing for us green-minded mamas to navigate. Claims of pure and sustainable abound . . and the certifications are endless, it seems. We spend a third of our life laying on a mattress, inhaling whatever it contains, so this is a big one that deserves our attention.

Flame retardants, formaldehyde and VOCS (volatile organic compounds) are all chemicals that are commonly found in mattresses, even those that claim to be “green.” What you must look for these three certifications.

  • GOTS, which guarantees that at least  95 percent of fabric used is organic
  • GOLS, this is for latex mattresses, also guaranteed to be at least  95 percent organic
  • Greenguard is a certification that tests for the presence of more than 360 chemicals

Bamboo

a bamboo forest with a pile of stones sitting in front
bamboo is not always sustainable

It seems to be pretty commonly believed that bamboo is one of the most sustainable options for materials, whether it be flooring or straws or fabrics. That may be true to some extent since it grows so easily and readily in mass quantity, but not when it comes to fabric.

The issue is the amount of chemicals that go into processing the bamboo into the fabrics that become your clothing or curtains. Up to fifty percent of that hazardous waste then seeps into our environment to do its damage.

So when it comes to choosing sustainable and toxin-free fabrics, I would always recommend hemp or organic cotton over bamboo.

Huggies Pure & Natural Diapers

If you’re a mom who’s had a baby in the last several years, you’ve probably noticed the Huggies Pure & Natural disposable diapers line somewhere on a store shelf. When you are drawn to the more natural, its green font and tree imagery is definitely eye catching.

While the diapers claim to use organic materials, they’ve been found to only include it on the exterior of the diaper, leaving the toxic chemicals on the inner lining that actually touches the baby’s delicate parts.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that these chemicals include sodium methylparaben, an endocrine disruptor that has been banned in the EU due to its ability to strip the skin of pigment.

the chubby legs of a baby in a diaper, one leg on a rug, the other leg on a hardwood floor, a couple of baby toys at their feet
Pure & Natural Huggies implement greenwashing

Biobags for dog doo doo

At first thought, the idea of using biodegradable bags for scooping up your dog’s doo doo seems very environmentally responsible. The problem with this is that in order for a substance to biodegrade it requires proper aeration during the process. It definitely does not get the opportunity to aerate when it is buried by junk in a landfill.

In fact, this combination instead produces a methane gas that offgases back into our environment, contributing massively to climate change.

Volkswagen

a colorfully decorated yellow & red volkswagen bus with Peace, flowers and a peace sign on it
Volkswagen is not as eco-friendly as it may seem

I recently watched a documentary on the big Volkswagen scandal. Several years ago they were found to be cheating the U.S. emissions tests by using a “defeat device.” This allowed their diesel engines to emit nitrous oxide pollutants up to 40 times beyond what is allowed here. For this reason, I would never buy a Volkswagen product.

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Research And Certifications

Just remember to always research any company or product you are uncertain about. Trustworthy certifications are everything. Primarily, USDA Organic and Non-GMO Verified– remember the butterfly! Oh, and when it comes to personal products, refer to EWG’s database since there is currently not a trusted certification for this category.

Learn to identify greenwashing

What product have you been fooled by lately?

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6 comments

  1. It’s so sad that this is happening. I wasn’t buying g from most of those companies anyway… although I had no idea about Mom’s best cereals 🙁

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