When Kasper Organics first stepped into the market, purchasing “organic,” “fair trade,” and “ethically made” items wasn’t a common desire. The demand for these products is growing rapidly as more people are becoming aware of the benefits of organic cotton, and are more concerned about products with fair wage standards. While this is an incredibly good thing for those of us looking to purchase these products, it also means a lot of frauds are popping up.
Don’t Always Trust a Label
Unfortunately, manufacturers can put just about anything they like onto a product label. Something can be labeled as “all natural” that is entirely made from synthetic chemicals. Products can be called “eco-friendly” when they’re even more damaging for the environment than the alternative they are trying to replace. While some excellent certifying agencies exist to help mitigate this, consumers still need to be aware that you can’t always trust what is on a label. In this day and age, a little bit of research goes a very long way to guarantee your product is safe for the Earth, and for the people involved in making it!
Greenwashing Is More Prevalent Than We Realize
The term “greenwashing” popped onto the scene in the last few years. It’s a play on words that might make you think of brainwashing. Basically, greenwashing is when a product is marketed as “green” but it’s not green at all. Greenwashing is HUGE right now. That commercial you saw on TV for the huge brand that’s now “eco-friendly.” Greenwash. The “green” motel you’re looking to stay at. Greenwash. That box store that now sells “more organics.” Greenwash.
Often these companies are making tiny little changes, and that’s a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, these changes are often not at all beneficial for the environment at all. Or, they’re such a minute change, less than 5% of their entire company, they don’t make much of a difference. Sometimes the changes actually end up meaning they make larger changes elsewhere that are no longer beneficial.
“Greenwashing” occurs with products being labeled as ethical/fair wage/ fair trade as well. While it’s not Greenwashing, companies are labeling products and services in a way that leads you to believe their employees are being treated fairly. Certifying agencies exist and are doing an excellent job to ensure fair treatment and pay for people around the world.
How to Evaluate a Product For Ethical and Earth Friendly Standards
If all this misconception is happening, what’s a person to do? Try these tips before you make your next purchase:
- Decide your priorities– What are you willing to compromise on? What are your absolute must-haves? What types of interaction are you willing to have with the company?
- Find a trusted source– This is the easiest option. Find a trusted source you know has done the hard work for you. We are extremely strict on the products we sell. If you find a good source you won’t have to dig as much. You can even reach out to them for tips on products they don’t sell.
- Look into the certifying agency- Companies are notorious for creating their own “certifying agency.” Then they create a logo to slap on their products and say “certified X” and it looks legit. Look into these certifications. If the only products available with this certification are from that company, you might want to look elsewhere.
- Dig a little deeper– We’re so lucky to have the world at our fingertips. Literally. Give yourself time to dig a little deeper. Take a look at reviews and other information you can find.
- Ask questions- This is one of the best ways to find out. Call or email the company and ask questions about their practices, what percentage of their business is dedicated to these types of products, why they have not been certified by a legit certifying agency, etc. In your research above, take the time to learn some of the top questions to ask and ways companies try to cover up what’s really going on.
- Shop small– Smaller businesses are often much more concerned of, and willing to discuss, environmental and ethical issues with you. Plus having a relationship with small businesses is fulfilling and wonderful! You can get to know one another throughout the years.
- Research vocabulary- Write down some of the keywords you see in the advertising. Really dig into those words from outside sources and determine if the company you’re thinking about shopping with is staying true to the ideals and meaning of that word.
By taking a stand against products that are misleading us with advertising, we send a powerful message. Voting with our dollars is an incredibly important way to guarantee more organic and Earth-safe products make it to market.
Check out this excellent resource, The Greenwashing Index with a step-by-step guide to identifying greenwashing, spots to view and share ads, and more http://www.greenwashingindex.com