You’ve Been Greenwashed A look beyond “Packaged Innovation”

How to Make the Best Natural and Organic Product Choices

“Green or Eco-friendly packaging, ingredients, soil, and sourcing?  How do we ensure that each of us can make a difference in health and sustainability in our own, personal way?

Did you know that most consumer personal care and lifestyle products have a high number of harmful chemicals and additives that can negatively affect your health, hair, skin, and body? With that in mind, it is so important to put critical thought into the products you are using, especially since any ingredients within your personal care  products can be absorbed into your body to negatively affect your circulatory system.

The first thing to take into consideration is the type of product you are purchasing. Kassie, owner of Minneapolis’ first natural and organic salon, screens all products first for their ingredients and long term safety, followed by their finishing results for the consumer.  As pioneer(s), Kasia Organic Salon is proud to "educate women, build trust, and cut through the greenwashing."

Within the growing buzz of eco-friendly awareness,  there are products that may unfortunately claim to be green when they truly don't live up to expectations. This process is called greenwashing.

What Is Greenwashing?

For a product to be labeled as natural and organic, it is so important that it lives up to strict standards to ensure that all ingredients are safe and usable. It is difficult to differentiate which products may be the best since many seals look similar or are regulated by different agencies. Greenwashing refers to a product that claims to be green or eco-friendly, but unfortunately, may not live up to strict standards in safety. A greenwashed product may use clever advertising to appear natural, though it still may not contain ingredients that are certified as organic.

Examples of a Greenwash:

ý       Clairol is an example of a company that claims to offer a "truly organic experience" with its Herbal Essences line of shampoos but, according to the report, uses chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol, and D&C red no. 33, which are not organic. (The report notes that Clairol does use some organic ingredients, does not test on animals, and uses 25 percent post-consumer recycled plastic in its bottles.)

ý       Tyson Chicken promotes its products as "all natural," even though the company treats its chicken with antibiotics.

Be an Educated Consumer!

These days, the savvy consumer must keep in mind that many product lines are playing into the eco-friendly and green market to meet their bottom line motives. To further educate yourself, it is best to look for trustworthy certifications to guarantee that a product is safe and organic to protect the health of your body and the health of your skin!

Taking Steps Toward Improvement

According to the website, “Understanding the demographics of green consumerism helps business owners to explore the environmental market. Research has shown that green consumers are sincere in their intentions, with a growing commitment to greener lifestyles; almost always judge their environmental practices as inadequate; do not expect companies to be perfect in order to be considered ‘green’. Rather, they look for companies that are taking substantive steps and have made a commitment to improve.”

What to Look for:

ý    Look for the top two product seals to certify green ingredients: USDA and the Green Seal are the most credible.

ý    Read all ingredient labels carefully to make sure that chemical and preservative ingredients are not included.

ý    Look for products that are cruelty free and not tested on animals.

ý    Look for concentrated cleaning products that contain less water and use less energy to produce.

ý    Avoid all aerosol products, which can be dangerous to users and the environment.

ý    Look for recycled product containers, which may not be the most attractive, but minimize the impact on the environment.

What About the Claim “Au-Naturale”?

Everyone should be familiar with the “all-natural” claim.  Most people assume that “all-natural” or “naturally-pure” means safe, good, or green, but unfortunately, this is not always the case.

"Natural" on a package doesn't necessarily mean a product is good for the Earth.

Buyer Beware, Buyer Confusion.

Chemicals and pesticides come from nature. Aveeno Active Naturals body lotions, for example, contain oatmeal and come in earth-toned bottles printed with plant leaves, but the products are also made with petrolatum, a byproduct of petroleum, which is a finite resource whose processing pollutes the air and water.

Unless a specific definition or explanation is offered, this claim is committing one of Environmental Marketing’s Seven Sins of Greenwashing - the Sin of Vagueness, claims Co. TerraChoice.  In this study launched in 2009, researchers found that 27% of supposedly “green” cleaning products studied in the U.S. were committing the Sin of Vagueness.

Companies and consumers should keep in mind that there is no such thing as a perfectly “green” product: environmentally preferable products are “greener”, not “green.” Environmental progress is important and will happen one step at a time. Individuals have an enormous ability to help demand and shape the marketplace to require greater measures taken in the concers of ingredient safety and transparency.

Now that sounds like a “natural” solution, doesn’t it?

Kassie Kuehl is a respected leader and educator in natural health and beauty care. The founder of Kasia Organic Salon and many result orientated "beautiful health" products, and experts in ammonia free hair color.  Kasia remains on the cutting edge of all-natural, non-toxic, and organic professional hair, skin, and body products and services. To become an Informed Beauty, contact Kassie at 612.386.4044, or visit

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