Like a lot of my classmates, I had never heard of greenwashing before Thursday. As I began to research for this post, one of the things that stuck out most to me was the greenwashing of bottled water. To me, when I think of plastic bottles, “green” is not the first thing that comes to mind. However, companies are actually claiming that their water bottles are more environmentally friendly. According to Nestle – which produces Nestle Pure Life, Perrier, Poland Spring, and S. Pellegrino –  “bottled water is the most environmentally responsible consumer product in the world.” Obviously, this is not the case. The average plastic bottle takes 450 years to decompose. These bottles also require two non-renewable materials, oil and natural gas. People may claim that this plastic is ok because it’s recyclable, right? Wrong. Though of course, these bottles are recyclable, it is said that almost 60% of plastic bottles end up in the landfill, contributing to the large global amount of trash and plastic pollution. The recycling of plastics is also not as easy as they make it sound because it can never be fully decomposed. Oftentimes, this plastic loses much of its properties and quality when being recycled. Companies, such as Arrowhead, promote words such as “eco-friendly” with new “eco-shapes.” These describe their use of “less plastic,” which may seem great but it’s still harmful to our environment, not only in the production but in what happens after we are done with them.

It’s incredible to me that people can claim that they are “green” and “eco-friendly” when they have no evidence to back up these claims and are often doing more harm than good. This can be seen everywhere and it’s hard to know what is actually eco-friendly or even slightly less bad.

Greenwashing – Herbal Essence

Many companies spend more time and money on advertising their products than worrying about the quality of the product itself. These companies advertise and market their products as being sustainable, when in actuality, they are not utilizing business practices that benefit the environment.

For this blog post, I chose to write about a product that I used for way too many years as a child. I used it because my mom would buy it for herself and me. I assume she bought this product because of its good pricing and advertisement of being “environmentally sound and natural.”

The company exclaims that their products are a good choice for the environment and the consumers hair. On their products, such as the shampoo and conditioner, they claim that it’s “all natural.” After reading online through many researchers’ papers on the topic, they all come to the conclusion that these claims are false. There are many unnatural chemicals in the shampoo and conditioner, such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Propylene Glycol. There are also known carcinogens in the products that are not found on the ingredients that are labeled on the back of the products.  Certain chemicals react when in the bottle and form a new compound after being mixed together, forming carcinogens.  People experience side effects from these unnatural products all the time. Health concerns that are related to the chemicals can include skin irritation (the most common), cancer, and organ toxicity.

After researching herbal essence products and looking into their website, it is alarming to know that they advertise these seeming healthy items. I stopped using herbal essence a few years ago because my skin started to become exceedingly irritated. My mom took me to the family doctor and we figured out that it was my shampoo and conditioner (created by Herbal Essence) causing the irritation. After that, my family and I started to look  more into the products we were buying. My mom even began to make her own laundry detergent.

Many companies greenwash their products to make themselves seem more desirable and to gain short term financial benefits. The consumer needs to become aware that companies are doing this. Many companies do not want to actually go through the transition of becoming environmentally friendly; therefore, companies like Herbal Essence, will just slap on a sticker and call it a day.

Peru Floods

Abnormal weather patterns have caused exceptionally warm water in the Pacific ocean, and this is the causing factor for a series of torrential floods in Peru. It is thought that the warm water is causing another El Niño, and climatologists have called it a “coastal El Niño”. Peru is a mountainous country and is extremely susceptible to mudslides, and the flooding has caused catastrophe in both mountainous regions, such as the area around Machu Picchu, along with arid, desertous regions, such Lima. According to NOAA, the ocean is neither in El Niño or La Niña, however El Niño is expected to come as early as April. The president stated that there hasn’t been an event this bad since 30 years ago. So far, the death toll is at 72. The flooding has destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes and over one hundred bridges. Water treatment systems have become clogged, resulting in restricted access to water in the capital. Crops all over the country are being destroyed, which will have a negative impact on the economy and the food supply. Many impoverished Peruvians live in slums, which have been completely washed away in many places, leaving thousands homeless. While the president insists that the flooding could not be avoided, the government has been criticized  for being unprepared for an event like this. Furthermore, citizens show concerns of not receiving help from the government in light of this awful catastrophe. It is estimated that the rain will continue for at least another month, leaving the country in a state of emergency. This event is just one example of how unpredictable weather patterns caused by climate change will impact people all over the world.

Raid Earth Blends Multi-bug killer

Before being introduced to greenwashing in the previous class, I had no clue on what this subject related to. Greenwashing can be described as, any act performed by a company that deceives the consumer in believing that the environmental practices performed by the company does no harm to the environment in regards to their product or service. As you can imagine there has to be a lot of products and services that are harmful to the environment that we have no clue is being done. I did some researching trying to find a good example of greenwashing that effects the environment regardless of what the packaging says. The everyday product that I came across, that took part in greenwashing was the Raid Earth Blends Multi-bug Killer. The Raid Earth Blends Multi-bug killer claims to be “an alternative insect control solution that contains an insecticide derived from the chrysanthemum flower”. Raid uses common tactics to appeal to consumers, by using words like “earth” and by displaying the color of the can in all green, which promotes this product as being “natural” for the environment. Despite its naturally derived component, the label still manages to warn users to avoid contact with skin and clothes, and not to inhale the mist when spraying it. This is a good example of greenwashing because insecticides are kind of impossible to make “natural” because the sole purpose of it is supposed to be for killing plants. Some of the ingredients found in this Raid products includes: Isobutane, Propane, and Piperonyl butoxide. Though these ingredients aren’t a big hazard to the environment, they still have a significant harm to people, pets, some insects, and fish if exposed too much.

As a whole, it is clear most people aren’t aware greenwashing even exists. For these companies to stop greenwashing, more people have to start becoming aware of the products they are purchasing because they could have great effects on the environment.