Help! I’ve Been Greenwashed!!

Have you heard the term “Greenwashing” yet?

I was talking with a friend and venting about my frustration with companies that present themselves as being very health conscious, and their products as natural, safe, and non-toxic only to find on closer inspection that either the products are loaded with chemicals, or they are unwilling to disclose the ingredients claiming that this information is a “trade secret”. My experience with ethical and truly Eco-friendly health conscious companies has been that they are proud to show their ingredient list because they know that their informed consumers will like what they see. When I brought up two companies in particular she directed me to one of her favorite bloggers, EcoFriendlyMamaUSA, and her Greenwashers page: http://ecofriendlymamausa.com/product-reviews/greenwashers/

This page lists many companies that either explicitly or implicitly present themselves as green, earth friendly, health conscious companies and provides honest feedback and information based on the authors research and personal experience. (Both companies I was expressing frustration with are listed here as a couple of the worst.) She also references a couple of websites for the Environmental Working Group for looking up household products and cosmetics:
http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners
http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
These are both great resources to learn more about the products you may be using. Get familiar with these sites so you can do your own research!

Wikipedia defines Greenwashing as “a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization’s products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly.”

The color green has taken on meaning, implying a product is natural, plant based, and Eco-friendly, and often this color will be used to best advantage as well as images of nature (forests, mountains, streams, prairies, you get the idea) banking on the hope that you will assume the product is safe and natural … because it looks the part! Unfortunately this couldn’t be further from the truth in many cases. Turn these products over and you’re likely to be assaulted with a long list of unpronounceable scientific mumbo-jumbo.

Did you know most people have ingested or applied over 200 chemicals to their body before their morning cup of coffee?? Between the soaps, shampoos, conditioners, shaving gels, body washes, lotions, creams, styling products, ointments, toothpaste, mouthwash, supplements, and cosmetics it all adds up quickly! Think about a nicotine patch. Why does it work? Because the nicotine on the patch is absorbed through the skin and into our bloodstream. The same goes for every other product you apply to your body! Read the ingredients of your body cream or your face moisturizer – would you be comfortable eating it? If not then maybe you shouldn’t be slathering it on your body.

Next consider your household cleaning products – cleansers, polishes, pest products, disinfectants, deodorizers – so many chemicals! These can leech into your skin through direct contact during use, contact with the item the product was applied to, and through the fumes you breathe during use and as they linger for hours or even days. Did you know that you have a higher risk of asthma if you regularly use spray cleaners in your home?

The EPA website states: “Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) [such as Formaldehyde] are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.”

With the advances of technology many of us are spending more time indoors, and we are breathing a steady supply of toxins from the gases of all of these products! Have you watched Chemericle yet?? Check out my review on Chemericle!

You CAN reduce the toxins you are exposed to on a daily basis – awareness is the key. In an earlier post I stated that my #1 health tip is to start reading labels. This doesn’t just apply to food! Start reading the labels on your personal care and household products, and if you’re not sure what something is, look it up. And green cleaning doesn’t have to be expensive – did you know vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice are very effective and economical cleaners? There are many books and websites with tips and recipes to make your own cleaner – just search “make your own green cleaning products”. Remember, you have a voice and you can vote every single day with the dollars you choose to spend or not spend on these products. Use your vote wisely!

Greenwashing

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#1 Tip for Better Health

Start reading labels!! Make a pledge to yourself to read the labels of the packaged foods you buy before you put them in the cart. You should know what you are putting in your body! Awareness is the first step! This may not bring immediate change but over time you will likely find yourself comparing similar products to find the one with more basic identifiable ingredients. And from there you may just decide to start looking to more whole foods than packaged foods. Give it a try! Make reading the labels a habit and see where it takes you!

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