Green Washing - Buyer Beware!

April 12, 2018

Green Washing - Buyer Beware!

Just last week I was having a conversation with a beautiful friend of mine and was relaying to her my experience when I was researching haircare products for Products with Purpose and during our conversation, I mentioned "Green Washing.”

She promptly asked me what is greenwashing?  Which gave me the idea that I should write this blog about it. 

Greenwashing is a spin off the word whitewashing, relating to green PR or green marketing that is deceptively used to promote the perception that they are a natural or organic product, and/or the companies aims or policies are environmentally friendly or safe to use.

It is no secret that the biggest new growth in the marketplace is a return to natural and organic products and marketers and product companies know this.

How often do you buy a product and when you get home you realise you’ve been sold to, by how the product looks or the carefully chosen words on the front. 

We all know that marketers spend billions of dollars a year convincing us that our fears, wants and desires will be solved in a bottle.

They are very savvy when it comes to promoting a perception. Which it turn now forces us to really research the ingredients they are using and the companies ethics.

When researching new products for Products with Purpose I am looking for non-toxic, clean or natural products.

A particular product I was researching ( I won't mention any names as my aim is not to defame companies but to educate women) was being marketed in the "Natural" space and I was told it was all natural.

The packaging had a "tree" as a graphic with the words "Made by nature" on the front. Giving me the impression it was all natural. I was very excited as it appeared to have a great range and reasonably priced. 

Alas, I was to be disappointed. Once I was able to sit down and read the ingredients list I found ingredients staring up at me such as, 

Sodium Laureth sulfate - which for many years now has set alarm bells off for us conscious consumers.

Also Methylchloroisothiazolinone,  Methylisothiazolinone and MEA's and DEA’s.

And "Fragrance" - "Extracts of herbs" - which are hidden ingredients often full of Parabens and Phthalates ( known hormone disrupters)

And unfortunately, the company didn’t seem forthcoming in releasing their ingredients list. 

So a big NO NO for this company.

Another great example of this was Herbal Essence with their “Totally Organic Experience” implying a wonderful Organic experience and much to our dismay was full of sodium laurel sulfates, cocamide MEA, synthetic fragrances and coal-derived dyes.


Other Tactics

Another tactic is to emulate another product, and on our supermarket shelves right now is Palmolive.



Placed side by side they look pretty similar.

 ”Thankyou" a company I have the greatest respect for. The ethos of this company is amazing.

Palmolive have seen a chance to grab market share from Thankyou and copied their packaging.



Firstly: "Thankyou" support a cause.  Every purchase made goes to helping to provide access to hygienic and sanitation programs for people in need. Every cent of their profit goes towards ending global poverty, by helping to get safe water, sanitation, food and child and maternal health programs to people in need.

Secondly: "Thankyou" do not pretend to be all natural with misleading graphics and designs. They are perfectly honest about what is NOT in their product.

Thirdly: "Thankyou" are transparent with their ingredients and do not contain any hidden ingredients such as Fragrance. 

I will note though that both these products do contain ingredients that are flagged by the EWG website.


sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine, Fragrance cocamide MEA, sodium benzoate benzophenone- 4 


cocamidopropyl betaine, Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate, phenoxyethanol, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate

That aside I know which one I would be buying. 

And for all us animal lovers and buy cruelty-free products beware!

Watch out for some natural brands, claiming to “not test on animals" (that for many years have given us the impression they were conscious brands) and now, unfortunately, grabbing market share and selling to China.


All non-Chinese brands selling their cosmetics to China are still subject to mandatory animal testing before their products can hit the shelves there.

I'm sorry to say but the likes of Aveda and Origins, which were against animal testing (now owned by Estee Lauder) have subtly changed their marketing to, we don’t believe in animal testing, except where a country we sell to, is required by law, as part of their regulatory safety process. 


Also, we can add Jurlique to this list.

Well, blow me down if that really isn’t the biggest deception. A total breach of trust. Very disappointing.

If this is a concern for you and you’re not sure then go to the “Peta” website.

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