Are You Unintentionally Supporting False Organic Brands?

November 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Body and Bath, Consumer Spending, Front Page, Greenwashing, Organic

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What do all these labels really mean? Are they simply greenwashing, or do they stand for something? And how can you tell?

What do all these labels really mean? Are they simply greenwashing, or do they stand for something? And how can consumers tell?

UK writer Tara Gould brings us another post about consumer products that are good for the environment. As always, BPGL respects the conventions of the writer’s native English punctuation, word choice, and spelling. ~ Julia Wasson, Publisher

Fake organic labelling undermines the companies who really care, dilutes the growth of the organic sector and compromises the health of people and planet. As consumers we need to do our best to boycott companies guilty of greenwash.

A recent report published by The Soil Association reveals that organic is steadily working its way into the mainstream. With the growth of global organic sales up 25% in the past three years and sales of certified organic health and beauty products increasing in 2013 by 5.6% to £31.8 million in the UK, the importance of organic products in the mind of the average consumer is demonstrably on the rise.

Organic Real or Fake?

Organic food must adhere to strict EU regulations which means that the product must have been produced to these rules and inspected and certified by a registered certification body, such as Soil Association Certification. But in the case of organic beauty, there are no such legal standards. In fact, EU Law means that brands can label their products as organic with as little as 1% of organic ingredients, even if the product contains other harmful substances.

The US is currently the largest market for organic skincare and cosmetics, followed by Europe, and in the case of organic labelling, suffers from the same kind of profiteering by unscrupulous companies. With the increasing popularity of organic, the market has been flooded in recent years with a wave of brands claiming to be organic. Although the Soil Association only includes products that have been certified organic in their reports, many of the global figures for organic skincare sales do not differentiate between ‘organic’ and ‘certified organic.’

Essential Care

Abi Weeds of natural and organic skincare and cosmetics company Essential Care says:

Unfortunately certification is still not legally required for skin care that calls itself ‘organic’ and as a result ‘green-washing’ is rife and consumers get misled. This yawning gap in regulation has created a very uneven commercial playing field and is something we’ve struggled with throughout our ten year history.

Essential Care support fair trade, natural farming methods and have an active commitment to the care of the environment. This includes organic certification of all of their products, locally sourced materials where possible, taken from sustainable and renewable resources, which are free from chemical contaminants, and are either recycled or can be recycled safely.

Little Green Radicals

Little Green Radicals produces safe, organic products for your baby or chlid.

Little Green Radicals produces safe, organic products for your baby or child.

Your skin is your largest organ, and what is put on it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Aside from the obviously damaging effects to the environment associated with the manufacture and disposal of harmful chemicals, certain substances found in many of the products on your pharmacy shelves have been proven to be toxic. This issue is thrown into a stark light when considering the health of our babies and children.

Children are at even greater risk than adults because they process food, and oxygen at a much faster rate than adults. Even small levels of exposure to certain toxins can affect a baby or small child whose organs are still developing. You won’t find it hard to scoop up a handful of products into your shopping basket labelled as safe for children that contain potentially harmful chemicals.

As well as organic clothing for kids, Little Green Radicals produce family and baby skincare products using only natural and organic products. Their organic skincare range is not tested on animals, and contains no chemicals, parabens or synthetic perfumes. Their commitment to absolute transparency demonstrates their principals and is to be applauded within the current corporate culture of spurious branding. Unusually, on many of their products they state the percentage of organic ingredients on the bottle .

I spoke to Josie, their chief designer about this, and she said:

We thought long and hard about whether or not to put the percentage of organic ingredients on the label. And because some products call themselves organic when they haven’t even received proper certification, we were concerned it might hinder, not help consumer decisions. In the end, and because we value transparency and our customers’ trust, we opted for total honesty.

Coola – Organic Suncare

Coola is a certified organic suncare company who make their batches locally in Southern California from fresh ingredients. In a recent interview, here’s the good advice they gave to help consumers choose the real from the fake:

When purchasing organic skincare products it’s best to review the list of ingredients presented on packaging and or labels. Organic ingredients should be noted in parenthesis ex: Cucumis Sativus (Organic Cucumber). You can also look for certain certifications on packaging and labels that guarantee the organic requirements are met. For example, our recently launched Environmental Repair Plus line is Eco Certified and the exact percentages of organic ingredients are listed on the labels. That accreditation is very difficult to achieve, and we are one of the few brands in the US to make this effort in order to create products that are easily identifiable as truly organic.

Invest in Companies with Real Values

In the UK, The Soil Association, in partnership with four other European certification bodies, have developed the Cosmetics Organic Standard, or Cosmos-standard, “to harmonise organic standards globally.” Look out for products with Soil Association or Cosmos organic certification, or which openly state all their ingredients and the percentage of organic ingredients so at least you know exactly what you’re paying for.

The growth in online shopping and logistics means you can pick and choose from a plethora of great, quality organic beauty brands worldwide. All of the companies mentioned above offer online shopping. Show your support for real organic products by buying from honest companies who are committed to natural and certified organic ingredients and who safeguard people and planet with eco friendly supply chains and practices.

Tara Gould

Contributing Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Take the Itch Away with Motherlove Green Salve

Marie, Owen, and Calvin — happy kids on vacation, with no itches! Photo: Julie H.

Last week, I was sitting at my computer alternately scratching my first mosquito bite of the season and trying to page through my emails. No stranger to itching, I had remnants of poison ivy dotting my left knee. My second case of poison ivy so far this summer, darn it all.

Even though symptoms of my annual battle with the toxic vine are lessening each year thanks to a concoction my pharmacist sells, the itching is enough to drive me somewhat mad.

So, when the following email came up on my screen, it immediately caught my attention:

I’m writing on behalf of summer and all things itchy and scratchy. Figuring Iowa is full of mosquitoes after all the 4th of July rain, I’m reaching out to see if you’d be interested in reviewing the Green Salve from Motherlove Herbal Company. It’s saving our skin over in Wisconsin. Thanks!

Julie — the new Blog Review Mother for Motherlove Herbal Company

No way I’d turn down that offer. I immediately wrote back.

Julia to Julie

Oh, itchy and scratchy are very familiar terms. I’d love to review the Green Salve from Motherlove! I’m sitting at my computer scratching my poison ivy (3 weeks now and still itchy). I just had a mosquito bite last weekend, too. Soooooo… Please send it over! …

Julie to Julia

Wow! How did you manage to only get one mosquito bite (don’t come to Madison)? We picked raspberries in the woods and got poison ivy – now I just keep the green salve in my purse. I hope it helps with all your summer “ailments” too….

Julia to Julie

Motherlove Green Salve is the itch remover. Photo: Courtesy Motherlove

I am excited to try the green salve. My poison ivy is nearly gone, but it flares up and itches still.

Have you tried Rhustox? It’s a homeopathic medicine that my M.D. recommended to reduce my susceptibility to poison ivy. I seem to get less severe cases, though I’m still getting it. Supposed to take a few years to be “immune,” if that really ever happens. Worth trying, for sure, though it’s not covered by my insurance.

Would you be interested in taking a photo of one of your kids applying the salve to their bites/poison ivy (or one of their parents applying it)? They’d get to see themselves on our blog. (My kids are all grown up and far away. :[  ) …

Julie to Julia

Well, just in time, we all contracted swimmer’s itch at the lake yesterday. I’m attaching a photo of my daughter Marie holding the salve. We’re down almost to the bottom of the jar. We’re using this in combination with a special soap and anti-histamines. So far, she just looks miserable (but is feeling fine enough to pick a fight with her brother as I type this)….

Julia to Julie

Covered with swimmer's itch, Marie holds up the last of her family's bottle of Green Salve. Photo: Julie H.

You’re in Michigan and you’re on vacation? What are you doing answering my emails? Stop working and go have some fun!

Still, I’d LOVE to get some of those photos! (Terribly selfish, aren’t I?) …

She’s a cutiepie. But she does look itchy and miserable, poor thing…

I’ve never heard of swimmer’s itch before, is it a reaction to an algae or a microbe of some sort? …

I just got a bite this morning. I’m definitely going to have opportunities to try the Green Salve!

Julie to Julia

We were out and about today. Attached are a couple of spontaneous pictures from the side of the road (someone mowed smiley faces in their wildflower field – random, but awesome). They are Marie, Owen (younger), and Calvin (older). Here’s a copy and paste from my facebook post on Marie’s photo yesterday…

Well, let me tell you. I know a lot about swimmer’s itch after today. In New Jersey, it is called Duck Fleas (good to know). Technically, a parasite (I’m assuming ala guano) from a bird finds its way to a snail and then (when the water temperature in fresh water lakes reaches a certain magical level) into the pores of human skin. 1/80th of an inch the life cycle of the parasite involves boring into your skin, creating a tingling sensation. The rash reaches a head, looking a lot like chicken pox. Finding the human body unfavorable for reproduction, the parasite dies. So common, the CDC can’t be bothered with tracking or reporting cases of swimmer’s itch, it goes from family to family. No one knows where swimmer’s itch came from, but it can be traced back to Douglas Lake in Michigan. Now you know.

Critter Bite!

This bug bite itched like crazy, until I applied Motherlove Green Salve. Photo: Joe Hennager

My sample of Motherlove Green Salve arrived the very next day. And it came none too soon. I was itching. I was scratching. I was ravaging my skin. Compared to this monster of a bite, my mosquito bite was no more than a tickle.

So I eagerly opened the package from Motherlove. Though I was in a bit of a hurry to try the highly anticipated Green Salve, I decided to be a wise consumer and read the label first:

Ingredients: extra virgin olive oil*, beeswax*, comfrey*, plantain*, marshmallow root*, calendula*

* Certified Organic Ingredients

Takes the itch out of mosquito bites, soothes rashes, chapped and irritated skin. Helps to minimize scarring. Do not apply to broken skin.

External use only. Certified Cruelty Free.

Please recycle.

Excellent. And the ingredients are certified USDA Organic by Oregon Tilth, a respected name in the organic world.

So, I opened the jar and dared to sniff the salve. It had no discernible scent, which for me was good news; I’m a person who is very sensitive to perfumes, even some natural scents. If it had been heavily scented, I might not have tried it at all.

Itch-free kids are happy kids! Photo: Julie H.

Next, I touched a fingertip to the salve in the container. The compound is exceptionally light to the touch and not at all greasy. My finger picked up only the smallest trace of salve, but it was plenty to spread on my irritated skin. Though the container only holds 1 ounce, I have to believe this salve will last a very long time.

All that’s good, of course, but what about the itching?

I applied the Motherlove Green Salve in the early afternoon, and the itch stopped immediately. When I took a shower the next morning, the itching started up once more. Another quick swipe of Green Salve, and my itch went away again.

The bite is healing, and the itch is gone. So is the itch from my lingering poison ivy. Both itches eventually would have gone away by themselves, but they were active before I used the Green Salve and gone the minute I applied it.

I’m convinced it works. And I’m not going to be far from my jar of Motherlove Green Salve the rest of this summer. Like my new email friend, Julie, I’ll be keeping it in my purse for those inevitable itch emergencies.

You can purchase Motherlove products (they have an awesome assortment for pregnant moms, new moms, babies, and nursing moms) from the Motherlove website. And they’ve been developing their herbal care products for 20 years — so long that some of the babies who first benefited are moms now, too.

And there’s more good news. Motherlove donates “over 10 percent of their after-tax profits to the Nurturing Life Foundation,” which the company started five years ago. According to their website, the foundation’s two-fold mission is:

  • “To promote breastfeeding and support mothers-in-need.
  • “To create opportunities for children nationwide.”

Nurturing Life Foundation donates to organizations around the world that support their mission. You can see a list of some of the Nurturing Life Foundation recipients on their website.

The Small Print

Blue Planet Green Living received a free sample of the product described in this post. No other compensation or incentive was provided.

Blue Planet Green Living’s review policy is to only review those products we feel merit overall positive comments. If we do not like a product, we do not review it. We are not influenced by complimentary products and provide our honest opinions. For more information, please visit the Policies tab on the top navigation bar.

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Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)