We have discussed in class the nature of companies misleadingly advertising themselves as “green” and/or “environmentally friendly”. This deceptive form of advertising, known as Greenwashing, aims at targeting a niche class of consumers that are environmentally conscience and make consumer decisions (purchases) based on their environmental beliefs. One such product that I have personally encountered recently is HUGGIES “pure & natural” disposable diapers. I try to advise my family members that tend to be less environmentally conscience than I am in making sound purchases and looking into certain products before buying/using them, however, sometimes the research part is left out and purchases are made based on the company’s claims alone – this was the case with the diapers. My nephew is 2 years old and I, over the years, have gotten my sister into the mindset of being environmentally conscience, but she, like many others, sometimes buys into the corporate claims. So, just a couple weeks ago when I was home for a long weekend, I saw that my sister had purchased these “pure & natural” (supposedly better for the environment) disposable diapers. This product immediately stuck in my mind for writing this blog post.
HUGGIES, claims that their “Pure & Natural” line of diapers uses “natural and renewable materials”, but does not go into any further detail aside from stating that they use “organic cotton”. After some research, I found that the diapers do indeed contain organic cotton, however, this material is only used on the outside of the diaper. Therefore, the inner material, the material that is actually in contact with the child’s skin, is not this “organic cotton”. Further research discovered the following: “The inside absorbent padding on HUGGIES® diapers is made of wood cellulose fiber (a fluffy paper-like material), and a superabsorbent material called polyacrylate. Other materials include polypropylene, polyester, and polyethylene – all synthetic materials designed to enhance the fit of the diaper and help stop leaks. The elastic strands in all HUGGIES® diapers are made of synthetic rubber for a snug but gentle fit for baby”. — It is easy to see the misleading messaging here. Someone may buy these diapers thinking, “Oh, organic cotton diapers, how nice”, when really, the part of the diaper that is in contact with your child is no different from any other disposable diaper on the market. Also, there was no evidence of whether or not the “organic” cotton used was certified organic. So, whether or not HUGGIES is claiming that their “pure & natural” diapers are better for the environment or not, they are certainly putting Greenwashed information out to their customers and to all consumers, which leads to misinformed/misinterpreted consumer decisions.