Your everyday items that make the Top 25 “greenwashed” products

Greenwashing was a new term for me. I have learned that greenwashing practices evolved as consumers began to spend more dollars on eco-friendly items. With this increasing change in shopping trends, businesses have had to reevaluate what they will push and endorse in some cases for more profit. However, in selling and promoting more eco-friendly items comes higher costs. Higher production costs are what is most dreaded by companies, so what how do they fix that? They make you believe you are buying an eco-friendly item, spending less of the production cost and taking your extra money.

While I was surprised, I wasn’t surprised. We live in a world that is driven by profit. However, I would have though that those passionate about sustainability would be more ethical in advertising and production practices. With that being said, as we allocate more money into buying better, sustainable, eco-friendly products, let’s do our research in making sure we are actually doing so with our new found favorite brands. I have researched what are the top 25, most commonly used items that are greenwashed so that we can better know our options. Below are a few that may surprise you.

1. Airline tickets
I know, we do not typically think this is on the TOP 25 because what college student has enough money to buy plane tickets a few times throughout the whole year? Truth is, even college students travel quite a lot to visit family between breaks, at least once a year per student makes for a lot of the profit, not including other consumers. While airlines like the one I work for, American Air, are buying and building bigger planes there is Easy Jet who focuses on producing smaller “Eco friendly” planes. The smaller they are the less emissions they give is the idea, however, the emissions are very much being emitted, no matter the size.

2. Kids toys
This one is a given and I know we have covered it in class also. Many toys claim to be no non toxic, BPA free, or lead free, but what other chemicals are included in the toys paint? What about the packaging? What about while we shop for the toys, are we using a reusable bag given to us by the store? Now look at the bag, is it made out of plastic or actual recycled material?

3. Software
Electronics take up a whole lot of energy that we use. Do you every really unplug or turn off your laptop when not in use? I really have to remind myself at times. With that being said, software is actually on the TOP 25 items being greenwashed. While some products claim to put profit towards eco friendly practices and business, including from Microsoft, they also made consumers have to buy new computers just to run Windows 7 new software.

4. Meat
I was fascinated to learn in my Nutrition class just because the foods you buy state organic does not mean they are fully organic. In order for your product to actually be the organic you are probably looking for, it has to say 100% Organic. Simply stating Organic can mean just up to 90% of the meat is Organic. In some cases, even only part of the product is organic, anywhere from 50-70% even though you are lead to think otherwise. With that being said, sadly, a label can state “All Natural”, yet the animal was treated with antibiotics and fed GMO corn.

5. Tampons and Sanitary Pads
This one is kind of a given if you really think about it, but thing is we don’t really think about it. Who thinks of cotton when they feel their insides are being pulled out once a month? Truth is, on top of certain companies claiming they monitor the amount of their product going to landfills by foregoing tampon applicators, they dont mention all the chemicals that go into the production of the cotton you are putting into your body. Might I add, these are chemicals that cause wildlife toxicity and as a direct implication to you, also cancer causing.

Real Journalism is Dying

Real Journalism is dying, quietly and slowly, and there is not enough attention on it. Many reasons are contributing to it, however.

First off, social media is becoming more and more popular, normal part of every day life, and is completely consuming our minds. How many of us have not heard about a world issue until we came across it on social media? I, myself, have learned of many current political and social events over Facebook before I did in the newspaper or news off of the television. That might have something to do with us turning to Facebook off of our phone first thing in the morning before even turning on the TV, radio, or coffee pot. I remember growing up at home, getting ready in the morning for school with the weather channel and morning news chatter going on in the background. When I sat down for breakfast I caught a glimpse of it from the table every morning before riding off to school. I truly wonder how many children’s families still value this practice rather than receiving news from social media.

What is the problem with receiving news off of social media? I have spoken to a lot of people a part of my young generation about this issue, and I am almost always confronted with, “Why is it such an issue? Social Media is such an important platform!”, “We are able to share so much information with people all at once, it is so helpful and useful!”.
I agree. Social media can be extremely useful, we can reach out to many people at once when it comes to important information. However, when it becomes our first point of contact for important information, that is a problem. Anyone can put information on social media, which can make the information not so credible in a lot of cases. We have turned to believing what social media says before we believe anything else. Why is this the case when real journalists getting paid to do real research are putting our actual credible information off of social media primarily? There are more job openings for social media managers and handlers than journalists and reporters. Want to know what is the most interesting part of applying for a social media specialist position? You do not need an English degree or a related bachelors degree in a lot of cases, because anyone can handle social media. This is who you are getting a lot of your information from.

The art of drinking a cup of coffee or tea while reading the newspaper is falling more and more behind. I hope that we can become more conscientious about the information we come across and researching whether or not it is reputable. I hope that we can begin to put more credible sources as our “go to’s” before turning to social media. How about a challenge? Before you post a current event or issue going on over social media, find it from the actual news, whether it be an electronic article over the web, televised report, or off of a newspaper. Try to create a habit of unwinding from social media by finding actual information in actual places rather than your black mirrored screen.

Sign here, fight for the EPA.

I would like to invite the class to sign a petition for a local town hall meeting with SC State Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott.
Taking only a peek at the headlines coming in from CNN, FOX, Good Morning America, it is clear there are a variety of issues occurring in the political realm, which would be discussed in the meeting.

What we all have in common is a desire to learn more about sustainability and our environment. Just as important, a topic of discussion will be the EPA, Environmental Protection Act, as well as talks of preservation of certain areas of our state.

This is very important. We now have a political party that represents the United States as a whole that does not believe the environment needs to be anywhere in focus at the moment, even though we are losing, ruining, and deteriorating our resources daily. This petition is a great advantage to take and start local. Our environment CANNOT handle nor afford 4 years of denial.

February 3rd a bill was introduced to the House with the goal of “terminating the Environmental Protection Agency”. The full text of the bill is now available though it was not when the bill was proposed. I am hoping that is the reason it has gotten near to none publicity at all. Why is this not a big deal over social media? Even though it does not state exactly its extent any more than what the goal states, it came after Trump promised to limit the power of the EPA via executive orders. The final line of the bill also states it will terminate December 31, 2018. There is more than I can explain shortly here what is lost with the termination of the EPA. But in short terms, there is less to no funding for environmental projects for sustainability, less knowledge of our footprint in the world, where we are in terms of resources, and no access to the information whatsoever. With this being said, I invite you to read my forwarding email which I copied and pasted into this blog post,

I just signed the petition, “Town Hall Meeting Request for SC Senator Scott and Senator Graham.” I think this is important. Will you sign it too?
Here’s the link:


I finally watched Minimalism.
Man it was good. I am proud to say this was a goal I was starting to approach before I watched the documentary.
The documentary was about taking an approach that was not only more sustainable for the environment, but one that was more sustainable for your wallet also. We live in a world where we spend carelessly just to keep up with the Joneses. We spend money on fast fashion, constantly needing to keep up with the trends only for the same items to be hidden in the back of the closet within weeks to months- and never seen or worn again. We live in a world where we have to keep up our decor with the season/upcoming holiday. Our car has to be nice and often we get bored with driving the same car so then we buy a second. These are all things constantly manufactured, bought, and eventually thrown away or put on the side of the curb for pick up, and these are all things that our environment cannot break down. The scariest thought is that we keep buying these things just to fill up our home. We have so much space we have to fill, that we don’t even use.

The documentary gave another aspect to this which was really interesting to look deeper into. The happiness of the people that had it all, was nowhere to be found. Instead, the more they purchased, the less they felt like their true self, and the less real happiness they felt. You always hear money doesn’t buy happiness. However, how many CEO’s, Directors, business owners do you speak to that actually harp on it and say, “I worked so hard and it was worth nothing to me because I was not happy”.

Not that you should not work hard. What I picked up from the documentary is that you should work hard, but work smarter, AND work at what you actually enjoy doing. What do I mean by work smarter? It is about the smallest of details… all the way down to your closet. I once read some of the most successful people where a similar uniform every day. For example, Steve Jobs was known to wear a black turtle neck and jeans almost daily. Tom, Facebook’s creator, is known to regularly wear a short sleeve tee-shirt daily with jeans. The reason behind this philosophy? They kept their mornings simple, not stressing the first thing they undergo in the mornings, choosing an outfit for the day, means they have a better ability to prioritize what they will give more thought to to more important issues later in the day. Other perks? Their morning are more stress free, leading to more happiness. Their closets contain basic yet functional items, that they like, so they do not have to continuously spend on “something new” for every occasion. This means less money spent and also, more happiness.

I have slowly started taking this approach in a few areas of my life. It really started when I went to Europe 3 years ago. I have vacationed in Italy every summer the past 3 years exploring more and more of its land. What first impacted me on every trip was the fashion. It was the same everywhere I toured, and it never changed all through the years I visited. It was something you would NEVER find in the U.S. Everyone wore basic, very functional clothing. Sneakers were a must, usually converse or a plain white tennis shoe and it was worn with everything from dresses down to a ankle length black dress pant. Shirts are usually of basic color, no crazy or extreme designs, and a light coat, sometimes even a peacoat for chillier weather. Accessories I have noticed are limited to a scarf or a bracelet but I have yet to see a native with bracelets, a ring on every finger, and a choker to match. Hey, if accessories are your thing go for it, but I was just mesmerized at how basic yet cute everyone looked, and still looking like they were going to work and not to play ball on a field. I quickly wanted to adapt this form of style and ease and started focusing on it immediately- huge perk- it became much easier to pack for these trips!
Another way I started incorporating a minimalistic style was by reducing the clutter in my home. Originally an interior design major, I love all things decor. I am very known within my group of friends to always have my home decked out in colors of the season, with fake and real flowers to match, and changing my vases or decor items to match. Sometimes these changes can take place in just a matter of two weeks and other times every two months. Then I realized it is costly and stressful. Much more stressful than just picking a basic palette of colors that can go with everything and any season, and maybe just making the difference with switching the fake floral arrangement on the dining room table.

Minimalism is the way to go. I do feel more free and like I can actually worry about issues that really matter with just the few changes I have made. I am happy with my 3 tennis shoes, two boots, and two pairs of heels… I do need to incorporate a pair of flats though… maybe. I am still working on minimizing my closet but I have gone through strides on not continuing careless purchases because I am bored on a Saturday and decided to window shop. And as far as my home, I have noticed significant less seasonal trash and a more comfortable, sustainable, yet lovely on the eye, environment. I hope to continue my journey and dedicate more to the really important matters, including my actual nonmaterial happiness.

I should have paid more attention…

I remember moving into my now home back in September. This was the first time I had rented something out with garbage pick up, and to my surprise, recyclable pick up as well. Every Thursday we would push out those garbage bins to the front of the yard and off they go. Well, I should say bin, as in, just the garbage ONLY bin.

I remember my boyfriend telling me we needed to get a house bin to put all the recyclable things in to separate from the trash so we can start putting out both bins by the end of each week. I remember thinking to myself numerous things like, “why?”, “what is the point- what difference will it make?”, “that sounds like a whole lot to learn and I am too busy already”. Those were really my three general questions. Why, and what difference would it make, could not explain my indifference to the situation any better. What difference could just two people in a home make, I immediately thought- the whole dang world isn’t recycling, a few things from this home isn’t going to matter. And oh, am I busy. I have a 6 year first grader who has homework that lasts me longer to help her with than cleaning my own bathroom, a very needy Italian Mastiff that literally weighs as much as me (this is child number 2), two jobs, and school… And I am expected to learn what can be recycled and can’t? Um, no.

That is until I read this article.

German retailer Aldi has announced that as of January 1st they will be removing 8 pesticides from all products on its U.S. stores shelves.

The food chain is making a name for itself as a health-focused supermarket in recent times.

With low prices AND a focus on health, Aldi is gaining a reputation as the food conscious shoppers go-to store.

Little did I know I was already on my way to making huge strides to a person like me, who knows nothing and had little interest in sustainability. I had already promised myself this new year to start eating better, and by eating better I did not mean diet. Fortunate enough for me, I grew up with my mother who was a nutrionist. I feel confident in how my eating habits are. However, after moving into this new home in Ladson-Summerville area, I find an article of a small grocery store down my street by the name of Aldi. Also is a German small grocery chain store that is now providing fully organic, no pesticide groceries and beating all health good stores around the country. What is even better than the store being completely organic? How cheap it is!

This was on my priority list coming into the new year which has been beyond beneficial for me. It has brought in so much insight to so much more than I could have ever imagined. Now, back to the recycling part… I cannot think of ONE item I have bought at Aldi so far this year, that is not recyclable. BINGO! Now, I am recycling. Why not? Everything I have bought in groceries so far has been organic, better for my body and my nutrition, I have not wasted plastic bags (because Aldi does not use them =) ), I have been 100% contributing to my environment and my body when it comes to groceries so WHY STOP at simply throwing away all the recyclable packaging in the regular trash bin.

I actually find it hilarious because my boyfriend lasted a week talking about recycling after seeing my disinterest and now that I can really tell the difference I alone am making, we are making, in my household, it’s me constantly over his shoulder saying, “hey, that can go in the recycling bin”, “don’t forget to take both bins out and not just the trash!”, “I emptied out the ground coffee into a mason jar- stick that coffee container in the bin please”.

I sincerely, do not think I would have ever been able to learn as much about recycling and the importance of natural foods alone without having made this change and the change of recycling items slapping me the in face before I threw it in the regular trash bin. I am excited to have put myself in the position to learn more, not only through this beginning change at home but picking up en environmental class and diving deeper. I remember Prof. Saunders saying something that has haunted me since on Day 1 of class. We stopped at a picture on a life of planet Earth and she said, “Let’s just stop here and look at this for a sec., you guys, this is all we have. Once this is all used up, that is it, we have nothing else.” It hit me then, that not only should I be proud of the small differences I am making, they will spread. I have a little one at home who’s already looking for all the recycling label/stamps on all of our items so she can police and make sure they go where it belongs. And that’s where it should start.