Over the last few years, sustainability has come to the forefront of the conscious consumer’s mind. One recent survey found that 78% of people are more likely to purchase a product that is clearly better for the environment.
While “going green” with your shopping habits is a great way to take care of the planet and reduce your carbon footprint, it may not be as easy as you think. Some of the self-care products you currently use might appear to be sustainable, but what if they’re nothing more than creative marketing and pretty packaging?
Unfortunately, the growing demand for green products has caused an influx of something called “greenwashing.”
Whether you’ve heard of greenwashing or not, let’s dig a little deeper into what it really is. The more you know about how companies are marketing to you, the more you can choose the right products to fit your sustainable lifestyle.
What is Greenwashing?
When you’re shopping for your favorite self-care products, do you find yourself more likely to purchase something if it looks eco-friendly? Maybe you’re attracted to certain sustainability buzzwords like “environmentally friendly”, “organic”, or “natural”. Unfortunately, companies can often get away with using terms like this when their products don’t exactly live up to those claims.
Greenwashing is nothing more than a marketing practice that promotes products as eco-friendly when a company actually spends very little time (if any) considering the real environmental impact. As a result, greenwashing can mislead conscious consumers into buying products that might be hurting the environment, rather than helping it.
While greenwashing happens frequently with self-care products, it can also be used for cleaning supplies, and even food. If you want to avoid it, make sure to do your research on the companies and products you typically buy. If the brand isn’t actively talking about its efforts to be more sustainable, consider it a huge red flag. If they don’t have any accolades or praises from independent environmental organizations, it could be another clue that their claims aren’t true.
Research and Read
In addition to doing your research on specific companies and products, you can make it easy for yourself to recognize greenwashing by looking at the ingredients. The good news? You can do it right now by going into the bathroom and looking at everything from your cosmetics to your skincare and beauty products.
The bad news? You might not like what you see.
Some of the most toxic chemicals often found in cosmetics include:
- Quaternium 15
- Methylene glycol
If your products contain any of those ingredients, even if they claim to be “green,” you can be sure they’re using nothing more than creative marketing.
In addition to knowing which red flags to look for, it’s also important to know which ingredients are naturally healing, restorative, or safe for your skin. Some of the best include hyaluronic acid, ceramides, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin B3, and argan oil.
While there are some brands out there that do believe in using natural ingredients, if you can’t find one that fits your needs, consider making your own products. Once you know the best ingredients to use, you can create your concoctions at a fraction of the cost, and enjoy the benefit of knowing exactly what you’re using on your body every day.
Self-Care as Part of a Holistic Lifestyle
Self-care is a wonderful way of looking after your physical and mental well-being. While a skincare routine and wearing makeup are both great ways to feel good about yourself and relax, there’s more to self-care than what you use on your body.
If you truly want to make self-care a priority in your life, you should think of it as a holistic practice. When sustainability is important to you, that includes “going natural” with almost everything you do.
We touched earlier on how some companies greenwash cleaning products. Cleaning can be a wonderful way to de-stress and clear the clutter from your home. But, do you really know what’s in the products you use? Making sure your cleaning products don’t contain hazardous ingredients can make a big difference in how you feel (especially if someone in your home has respiratory issues). Plus, using eco-friendly cleaning solutions will keep you on track with your sustainability goals. Some of the additional benefits include:
- Reduced risk of skin irritation
- Fewer allergic reactions
- Natural ingredients can maintain your furniture longer
- You’ll save money
Don’t be fooled by fancy labels, green imagery, and cleverly-utilized words and phrases. Greenwashing isn’t exactly ethical, but that hasn’t kept companies across a variety of industries from putting it into practice.
By taking the time to do your research and learning how to properly read the labels of your self-care products, you’ll be better equipped to choose brands that stand behind their claims. You can feel better about taking care of your mind and body when you know you’re also taking care of the planet, and generations to come.