The Honest Company is the latest big name brand to come under scrutiny for containing an ingredient it claims to avoid. Look up Live Clean’s Green Earth line of shampoo on Think Dirty, and it gets a 10 (where 1 is good and 10 is bad). Most Arbonne products get a 5 – 10 score. I don’t mean to pick on companies, but there are many examples. So if you can’t trust the label, what point is there in reading them? Why bother paying more for a supposedly healthier product when we keep finding out we’re not getting what we pay for? Because there’s more to responsible consumption than just reading labels.
The Shift from Homemade to Mass Produced
Way back when, we used to make just about everything. But this isn’t always feasible or practical any more. We’ve shifted from homemade to mass produced, and we’ve become comfortable with not knowing exactly how or where something is made.
The Problem With Labels
Thanks to consumer advocacy and environmental groups (i.e. David Suzuki Foundation and Environmental Defence), we’re becoming increasingly aware of potentially harmful ingredients used in every day products (everything from make-up to shampoo to furniture to toys to housewares). But at the same time, the alarming messaging leaves us more confused than ever. So when companies make claims like “eco-friendly”, “all-natural”, “plant-based”, “low-VOC” it seems like a good idea to switch to such products – after all, these are great sounding catch phrases and certainly better than conventional products that make no mention of these benefits.
But that’s where the issue is. They’re just catch-phrases. They don’t necessarily mean anything. Just like “phosphate-free” on cleaning products doesn’t really mean much since it’s been illegal in Canada since the 70s.
You could go back to making your own everything, and that’s not a bad thing to consider – at least as much as you can muster the time and energy for. Next, you can support local businesses that make everything from scratch for us. We can also demand better of the big name brands, both conventional and green.
Whichever path, or combination you choose, it’s clear that we can no longer accept the status quo.
Take a few minutes the next time you need to replace something. Look at the labels on what you currently have, and ask yourself how transparent they are. Look at what’s in the product; don’t get caught up in the often listed “what’s not in”, turn the package around and look at the full ingredient list, or ask the manufacturer for more information. I can help if you’re feeling overwhelmed by providing you with the knowledge and tools to apply throughout your home to make better choices moving forward.
Take a Stand Against Greenwashing
Companies spend an enormous amount of money trying to get us to buy their products. We need to demonstrate to manufacturers that we care, and that we won’t fall for greenwashing tactics. Use your power as a consumer to support companies who are actually doing the right thing, rather than companies who are just pretending.