I am guilty of playing into greenwashed products. I had heard of the term greenwashing, but before this class I was not sure exactly how it was advertised to people. I would say that I like to do my research on the products I use, but honestly most of the product choices that I make are because my parents use them and I’ve grown up using them or eating them in my household. Since I have become more invested in environmental issues and now that I live on my own, I have been trying to buy ‘organic’ and I’ve been trusting the labels just because they seem to be “better”. I am probably guilty of the feel-good-feelings I get from buying these products, as many other people do as well. Take organic, for example. Some people see the stigma with it, and just see it as extra money for the same types of goods. Vegetables, for example, are highly advertised as organic. I personally have tried to find the better products in the grocery that I feel come from more honest companies, or the food was made in a way where everyone (and everything) was treated fairly. But, according to an article titled “The Top 25 Greenwashed Products in America,” these products range from air travel to toys and beauty products. It is not just food, which is what some people automatically think of.
The first product that I would like to look at is household cleaner. In the past, I have always used the same brands my parents use, but I got a coupon for this brand and, hey, it is called Simple Truth Organic so it must be better right? The label is green and says things like “Non-toxic,” “USDA Organic,” and “Non GMO.” Why would household cleaners be genetically modified in the first place? Maybe this is just the company’s way of getting people to buy this product, since it is right next to the label for organic. The label also claims “No animal testing or ingredients” and “Simply free from parabens, sulfates, triclosan, phosphates, and ammonia.” Though this product seems to be reliable and truthful with its ingredients and labels, there was a lawsuit with the same company’s meat. The lawsuit talked about how the poultry was raised in close confines, despite talking about a ‘cage free and humane environment.’ Though this source might not be as reliable, I was curious about the meat that I buy. Miller Amish Country Poultry is a company that uses phrases like “All Natural,” “Home Grown,” and “Hand Trimmed.” On their website, they claim they are now GMO free, organic, and antibiotic free. Again, this company seems reliable, but it is difficult to find anything that really talks about the processes of production. In that article from the first paragraph, meat is one product that is said to be highly greenwashed because of factory farms and saltwater plumping, as well as feeding the animals GMO corn. Another product that I use, Horizon dairy, was downgraded from organic to “natural”. This term is highly unregulated, because there is no common definition for what this should include. Though the cows themselves, just like the meat, might not be directly injected and be GMO, what they eat can be. I was not as savvy a shopper as I thought I was, and being able to navigate through the grocery with all false labels just means that doing your research can be more beneficial than anything else. How to avoid it when it is everywhere, especially when text on processing is difficult to find? Maybe, again, shopping local will provide you with the opportunity to talk to those who grow, make, care for the products that you buy.