Thanks for tuning in to Twelve Minute Health Bits. This is your host, Christen Hull, providing health and wellness support for the 21st century. We will be talking about using simple methods from today and centuries ago to keep our bodies healthy. Our goal is to daily stay “Above the Wellness Line.” In this podcast I will be giving you tips and tricks on how to daily make small changes to your life in order to keep your body well.
Episode 18 - Greenwashing
Have you ever purchased something thinking it was a great deal? That it was a clean and natural product, and you were supporting your family’s health? Only to find out later that you just paid for a much more expensive version of the synthetic chemically laden version you were already using? Unfortunately, so many companies do this. It is called greenwashing. It is frustrating, deceiving, and should be illegal. However, the food and drug administration (FDA) continues to allow companies to confuse consumers.
When I first started my natural health journey I would get so excited because I would go to the store, find a product that was “safe” and labeled natural, get it home, and use it on my family or myself. Then I dove into the ingredients a bit more and realized it was actually not as safe and natural as what I had anticipated. I would be frustrated because my initial glance at the front label was deceiving. It probably said something like, “green” or “all-natural.”
The Cambridge Dictionary (2020) says greenwashing is designed “to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is.”
As always, I encourage you to do your own research, but use this for a starting point if you wish.
Before we dive into this information, let’s grab an oil. I am thinking about one that is very high in sesquiterpenes to provide oxygen to the brain. Cedarwood or frankincense are amazingly high in sesquiterpenes, and will help you focus and remember the information. Put a couple drops of either or both of these oils on your palms, rub your palms together, and cup your palms over your mouth. Breathe deeply three to four times. If you have a diffuser close by you, add either or both to your diffuser with water, and start it up.
Natural and Organic May not Mean What you Think it Does
There is a common misconception among consumers today that the terms “natural” and “organic” on a package mean the same thing. This is actually incredibly far from the truth. According to a study conducted by the Organic & Natural Health Association (2015), one-third of Americans do not believe there is a difference between the terms natural and organic, and almost the same amount believe that the term “natural” is actually regulated by the FDA. What is more concerning is that approximately half of consumers believe that the term “natural” means free of pesticides or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Also, two-thirds of people polled believe that “naturally” labeled foods are free from synthetic additives (Natural Marketing Institute, 2015).
Unfortunately, this is simply not true. The FDA does regulate the term organic. So if a product is labeled organic, it cannot contain certain ingredients and must adhere to the growing standards of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic certification. Also, 95% of its ingredients must be of agricultural origin and organic. However, since the FDA does not regulate terms such as “natural” or “green” this can become confusing to consumers. When I first started my natural health journey, I had no idea that those terms really did not mean anything. I would purchase a product that looked okay from the front label, then I would get it home, use it, and realize it was not what I thought it was, or there were sneaky ingredients hiding in there that could actually wreak havoc on my family’s health. This was very frustrating!
Another term that is not regulated is the term “fragrance.” Companies are allowed to use the word fragrance on their labels and it really could be any type of scent. If you see the word fragrance on a potential product you are using, run!
Product Example - Mrs. Meyer’s
For example, Mrs. Meyer’s is a brand that many people think is cleaner than it’s synthetic chemically laden counterpart, Clorox. However, if you flip the bottle over and actually look at the individual ingredients in the product, you will find you are just paying more money for a similar product.
Here are the ingredients on Mrs. Meyer’s Mint Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner:
[Fragrance: Mentha Viridis (Spearmint) Leaf Oil ; Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil; Dipropylene Glycol; Methyldihydrojasmonate; 2,6-Dimethyl-7-Octen-2-Ol; Ethylene Brassylate; Amyl Cinnamal; Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil; 3,7-Dimethyloctan-3-Ol; Benzyl Benzoate; Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil; Linalyl Acetate; Limonene];
Sodium Methyl 2-Sulfolaurate;
Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate;
Benzisothiazolinone (Mint multi-surface everyday cleaner, 2020; Webb, 2020)
(The bold words in this list are ingredients that are of concern when looking for natural, organic, and/or green products.)
The bold part (or easy to read part) of the Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning label says: “Free from: parabens, phthalates, glycol solvents, artificial colors” (Basil multi-surface everyday cleaner, 2020). This sounds rather enticing and makes it look as if Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products do not contain anything harmful; however, if you actually read the label you will find some ingredients that are quite questionable such as Methylisothiazolinone and Benzisothiazolinone. Both of these are preservatives that can be a neurotoxin and have been shown to disrupt hormones and harm the reproductive system (Boyle & Geller, 2016).
More than anything, I hate being lied to! I see lies and deception all around me when I shop in the cleaning and food aisles at our stores. I actually now avoid the cleaning aisles like the plague because I know I have a better, safer alternative for my family. And I do not want to smell the chemicals and fake fragrances as I walk down the aisle. Companies will put information on their products to try to convince you that their product is better and healthier for you than their competitor just to make a buck. Transparency is so important. People are important. This is why I only trust one company. If I question any ingredient in a product from this company, I can email product support and they will give me a full-disclosure answer about the ingredient in question.
When I first started looking for a company that I could trust, I called a few on my list such as Melaleuca (which I was currently using) and others. I asked a series of questions regarding ingredients in their products, their growing practices, and specifically about some of the ingredients I was seeing on the labels. Melaleuca, in my option, is the definition of greenwashing. They make claims to be natural and plant-based, but they could not answer my questions about why certain ingredients were in their products so I started to do some digging. I found some pretty interesting things such as formaldehyde (cancer causing, neurotoxin, developmental, endocrine, and reproductive concerns); Phenol; P-Nonyl (developmental, endocrine, and reproductive concerns); and many more. I was angry after finding out this information. The company lost all credibility instantly in my opinion. If they were willing to put those ingredients in some of their products, who is to say they would not put them in all of their products including supplements that people are ingesting on a daily basis (Melaleuca diamond brite automatic dishwasher detergent pack, 2017).
Product Example - Arbonne
Another company I used to use but lost trust in because of the crazy toxic ingredients in their baby creams and face creams, is Arbonne. This company, like many others, tries to cater to the consumer who cares about products being free of synthetics that are harmful, but actually does not do the homework to make them free from these chemicals.
One Company I Trust
Honestly, I could go on and continue about my frustration with greenwashing, but I am not doing any justice. I did my homework before jumping on with one company that I trust, and I feel confident enough to share about this company’s amazing products with others.
Friends, we need to be good stewards of our health and the environment. Dumping synthetic chemicals that are known carcinogenic (cancer causing) in and around our homes is not the best way to be a good steward of what God has blessed us with. Please do not let yourself be fooled like I was. When we know better, we can do better! 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” Join me in our positive affirmation for the week: “When I seek out information, I am less deceived by this world.”
Keep following me to find out which products I find safe and effective for my family.
Products Featured on Today’s Broadcast
Visit www.twelve-stones.net to place an order
Thank you for tuning in to this resource from Twelve Stones Health and Wellness with Christen Hull. If you have an idea for an upcoming episode, send it my way, I would be happy to explore the topic. If you are interested in more information on becoming a member of my wellness team and receiving the benefits of synthetic chemical free living in your home, please talk to the person who shared this podcast with you or, visit my website at www.twelve-stones.net. If you find this resource helpful, I encourage you to enjoy and share this podcast. Please do not alter the content in any way or charge for this resource.
Basil multi-surface everyday cleaner. (2020). Retrieved from Mrs. Meyer’s website: https://www.mrsmeyers.com/product/household-cleaners/multi-surface-glass-cleaners/multi-surface-cleaner-basil/
Boyle, M., & Geller, S. (2016, April 16). EWG ranks cleaning products for babies. Retrieved from Environmental Working Group website: https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2016/04/ewg-ranks-cleaning-products-babies
Greenwash. (2020). Retrieved from Cambridge Dictionary website: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/greenwash
Melaleuca diamond brite automatic dishwasher detergent pack. (2017, March 17). Retrieved from Environmental Working Group website: https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/6394-MelaleucaDiamondBriteAutomaticDishwasherDetergentPacks/
Mint multi-surface everyday cleaner. (2020). Retrieved from Mrs. Meyer’s website: https://www.mrsmeyers.com/product/household-cleaners/multi-surface-glass-cleaners/multi-surface-cleaner-mint/#detailView
Natural Marketing Institute. (2015, February). Consumer insights on organic and natural. Retrieved from Organic & Natural Health Organization website: https://www.greenamerica.org/sites/default/files/inline-files/Consumer-Insights-on-Organic-and-Natural-A-Research-Study.pdf
Webb, I. (2020, May 12). Are Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products safe? Retrieved from I Read Labels For You website: https://ireadlabelsforyou.com/mrs-meyers-cleaning-products/