When we first started discussing greenwashing in class it really peaked my interest, due to the fact that I consider myself to be environmentally conscious when I see products advertised as “natural” or “green” it does tend to peak my interest. And that is the whole point, it’s supposed to appeal to this increasingly growing environmental movement that a lot of people care about. But is it all marketing, and what do these sustainable buzz words really mean?
While I do notice this type of marketing often in food packaging, I also tend to see them in the beauty industry. I decided to look into this a little deeper, specifically in shampoo and conditioner. When looking into the marketing of these products they all tend to describe “organic minerals and vitamins” that will save your hair. In particular Herbal Essences advertises “a truly organic experience”, so i decided to figure out how organic it really is. Turns out, not very, considering lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol and D&C red no. 33, and 1,4-Dioxane aren’t organic. Not only are these chemicals are dyes not eco friendly, they may be harmful to public health. 1,4-Dioxane is a carcinogen linked to organ toxicity and is in as many as 22% of cosmetic products, and despite this it is often not found on labels. The health concerns include cancer, organ-system toxicity and irritation.
Learning this information really shocked me. Companies are making millions of dollars making claims of being natural and good for the environment, when for some of these products that could not be further from the truth. Doing this research was a learning experience for me, that as a consumer one must look deeper into the products they choose to support. Consumers have all the power, and if people decide to put their money into companies that are truly eco friendly, then the big companies will follow.