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)