Aveeno Greenwashing


The neutral color of the packaging with the green flower and the leaf in the upper corner make this product look pretty eco-friendly. The statement “Active Naturals” under the brand name gives you a good feeling about buying the product. At first glance, you would definitely think this is a green product thats good for the environment and good for your skin. At second glance, you’ll see that the product contains “gentle microbreads.” If you are unaware of what microbeads are or the effects of them on the environment like I was when I used to use this product, you wouldn’t think twice about the green goodness of this face scrub. 

Microbeads are tiny balls of plastic in cosmetic products that are used to exfoliate skin. These beads are not biodegradable and they end up in our waterways. According to Newsweek, just 1% (which is 8 trillion microbeads) of the microbeads discharged in a day can cover over 300 tennis courts. This 1% makes it to the ocean. The other 99% ends up in sewage sludge which is often used as fertilizer that is sprayed on crops and runs off with rainwater, eventually winding up in the oceans with the other 1%. Here, the toxic microbeads are eaten by aquatic animals. As of December 2015, plastic microbeads have been banned in the U.S. 

On their webpage Johnson & Johnson responded to the Aveeno microbead issue. Here they  state that they were one of the first companies to start removing them from their products and planned to completely remove them from all products by 2017 and have already met their 2015 goal. They clearly have to remove the microbeads a little sooner than 2017 now, but kudos to them for taking the initiative before it was law to do so.

The packaging commits the Sin of Vagueness of the seven sins of greenwashing with its phrase “Active Naturals”. What is natural about this product? Certainly not the tiny balls of plastic that exfoliate your skin “gently” while harming the environment. 

Katie Clontz




5 thoughts on “Aveeno Greenwashing

  1. In Greater Cincinnati the sewage sludge is either incinerated or buried in a landfill. This is different than many other cities.

    Mike Cappel


  2. I agree the packaging of the product looks very nice and “green”. I also read an article on microbeads and how they can get into the ocean and harm the environment. I wonder what the ingredients said on the package and if there was anything natural in them.


  3. I agree when you say the packaging looks “green”. I also use this product, and this was really eye-opening for me. I never really thought about any of those microbeads hurting the environment.

    Becca Roberts


  4. Micobeads frustrate me. It just proves that many product developers are not forced to consider the lasting effects that products have once they are flushed down the drain or put into the air. Good alternative for exfoliating skin are oatmeal, coffee grounds, sugar, and baking soda. Very good post!


  5. I’ve always viewed the Aveeno brand as more “gentle” and “natural” in comparison to other skin and bodycare brands, it’s shocking that they really play into the 7 sins of green washing to make their company what it is today. No matter how “green” something is, the ingredients list doesn’t lie, I’m not sure how they thought no one would catch on to the fact that these exfoliating beads are man made and the furthest thing from natural.
    -Skylar Barkley


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s