How Not to Get Caught Out by 'Greenwashing'

The power is with the consumer.

What deems a product sustainable?

Sustainability has finally garnered importance in the fashion and beauty world, but the lexicon surrounding ethical and eco-friendly fashion and beauty products is often laden with doubt. 

Companies are scrambling to add 'green' words to their packaging to show that they're doing their part, but sadly, most 'natural' and 'organic' items are fraught with inaccuracies. 

The word “sustainability” is hard to define but is generally understood to cover companies’ actions to improve their practices using environmental, social and governance criteria and, in particular, how they address climate change.

"Greenwashing" is the practice of concealing ambiguous and un-environmentally friendly methods while ostensibly claiming to be "natural".

Speaking to British Vogue, business development manager for beauty and wellbeing at the Soil Association Georgia Barnes warned that things aren't as always straight forward as they seem.

"Generally speaking, natural and organic, are fairly unregulated terms," she explained.

"For example, a product just has to contain 1% organic ingredients, and you can call it organic! Even if it's loaded with pesticides in the other 99%."

Essentially, eco-friendly self-promotions mean the company does not have to do anything to make its product better for the environment, they just have to advertise it as if it is so. And, unfortunately, it works.

“66% of consumers would spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand, according to Nielsen’s Global Corporate Sustainability Report, a figure that jumps to 72% among millennials” (Business News Daily).

Greenwashing makes it almost impossible to differentiate between legitimately sustainable companies and those pretending. 

But for those looking to make a difference and choose actually 'green products over their counterparts, you can:

1. Choose the COSMOS logo

A COSMOS certification takes a lot of the legwork out of shopping for green beauty. The Soil Association update their list every year to account for new launches, and you can search for existing products here.

2. Investigate ingredients

Both the Soil Association and the Environmental Working Group in the US publish exhaustive lists of particular ingredients to avoid. They're also helpful to help you understand why a certain extract might be harmful, so you can make decisions for yourself.

3. Take care of your empties

Research the packaging used by companies you're thinking of ordering from. Separate out glass, paper and cardboard and recycle accordingly.

4. Look for the leaping bunny

The Leaping Bunny Program is the gold-standard in cruelty-free certification for personal care and household products companies and signifies that no animal-testing was involved in the production of this product. It involves rigorous testing and assures that the item is cruelty-free.

READ MORE: Here's How Small Your Carbon Footprint Has To Be To Save The Planet

READ MORE: Topshop Is Launching Its First Vegan Shoe Collection

You May Also Like