Greenwashing Part I

2015-02-17 19.55.42.png

Audrey Davis-Sivasothy, the author of "The Science of Black Hair"and "The Science of Transitioning", writes:

The popularity of the natural, green and organic hair care movements have all but kicked “greenwashed” product advertising into overdrive! Greenwashing is when a company claims that their product is natural, organic or environmentally-friendly, but the company’s practices or ingredients just don’t measure up to their claims.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to know the difference between the ones that are truly green and those that are green in name only. When it comes to products with the “natural” label, it’s even harder to tell which products make the cut because (unlike organic products) there is no official definition for “natural” in the hair product world. If you are a product buyer who is concerned about ingredients or one who purchases exclusively based on labeling information—greenwashing can cause you to inadvertently purchase products with ingredients that simply do not meet your personal standards or expectations.

So, why do companies greenwash?

Companies greenwash because they know that consumers feel warm and fuzzy inside when they buy products that they believe are greener or more natural. Simply put, greenwashed products SELL!  As consumers, we’ve been spoiled. We are used to perfect, fruity smells, pretty colors, and thick, rich luxurious formulas at bargain prices.

Unfortunately, many natural and organic ingredients don’t actually look, behave or smell the way we expect them to when added to products, and sometimes the final products don’t work as well as the not-so-natural versions. When faced with a truly natural product, many of us like the idea of them but would prefer the not-so-natural product simply because it looks, smells and feels better.

The Challenge

Companies that are legitimately green face an uphill battle, especially when they have to compete with companies that aren’t following the same guidelines. It’s like trying to paint a picture while only using the colors red, yellow and blue—meanwhile, your competition has access to a full rainbow pallet of colors. (Oh, and you paid a lot more for your three colors!)

Truly natural and organic ingredients and production processes are not cheap—and this is reflected in the cost of most organic products. Producing green hair care products costs money! Greenwashing allows companies to reap the benefits of green without coming out of pocket for it. Companies don’t even have to shoot for the high goal of being “organic” which requires outside certification. “Natural” will do because natural is not regulated.

The Problem with Greenwashing

Greenwashing is only a problem when consumers are mislead and aren’t truly able to make educated decisions based on the product’s advertising information. When we are given truthful and transparent product information, we’re able to make conscious Greenwashing Part I decisions to use the products we use. Greenwashing takes away our decision-making power.

In Part 2, we’ll teach you how to spot greenwashing in your products’ advertising.

Thanks for sharing Audrey!!! 

Make sure you check back next week for Part 2 of Greenwashing.

In the meantime, you can see more of Audrey Sivasothy at the following places:





Tiffany NicholsComment