This past week we discussed greenwashing. Greenwashing is when the public relations department of a company depicts their products as environmentally conscientious. A problem with greenwashing is that you expect to see it in certain places but not in others. One places I haven’t thought to look until recently was my makeup bag. Being the environmentalist that I am I tend to gravitate towards products that promote the environment or use words such as “natural” or “clean” and marketing agencies know this. Companies target my demographic of twentysomething environmentalists who want the products they consume to have the least amount of an effect on the earth.
The issues with cosmetic products is that the greenwashing cannot be regulated as easily as food or some other products. The words “clean”, “natural”, and “organic” are not regulated unless certified. And even if they have a certification, it could come from an unreliable source. Some cosmetic products have the word organic on the packaging if they have a single drop of organic essential oil. Organic certification comes from the Department of Agriculture but there is no legal division of the United States Department of Agriculture for the organic certification of cosmetic products. Some brands emphasize an organic or natural ingredient within their product to distract the consumers from the other products.
According to a study by Intelligence Group “nearly three-fourths of millennials do online research before buying a product”. This study also said that millennials buy only products that we deem necessary. The more research we do on products before we shop, the less likely we are to be fooled by greenwashing. It is important to not be fooled by greenwashing so that consumers can support companies that are actually making a difference in the world and have truly “greener” products.