I was at a place in Lagos last week. They had on sale, loads of their branded hair products and all of them had boldly written on them, “Eucalyptus” or “Castor Oil” or “Aloe Vera” e.t.c. You know, all those buzzwords that people that are pursuing a natural lifestyle feel drawn to. I randomly took one of the products off the shelf and turned the packaging around to read the ingredients. That is my knee jerk reaction when I come across a new product. I can’t remember it all right now but the product with the Castor Oil written boldly in front of it had ingredients listed something like this:
Parafinum Liquidum, Microcrystalline Wax, Petrolatum, Castor Oil, Tea Tree Oil, PEG-75 Lanolin Oil, Parfum.
It was being sold as a Castor Oil Creme. Now that you have seen the ingredients, I ask you: Would you regard this as a Castor Oil creme? More like a Paraffin Oil creme or a Petroleum Jelly creme, right? But that won’t sell so they name it after the 4th ingredient in the batch. Notice too that the Tea Tree Oil is not called Tea Tree Essential Oil, so don’t confuse the two. Lastly, no really natural product uses parfum. They use an essential oil for scent and its aromatherapeutic qualities. If they do not, then they tend to use phtalate free fragrances.
I looked at another product then another, then another, and yet another and they all were like that. The very things that Naturals typically do not like were available in abundant quantities in each product. ‘Cones, Petroleum based products and questionable preservatives.
I was a bit gobsmacked by the level of greenwashing that was going on there, especially as this company have built a brand that they claim is tailored towards Naturals and those that want to use Natural Products.
I had intended to do this post before then and felt spurred on to do it even more after I went there.
So let’s talk a bit about Green washing and how you can recognize it for yourself.
Greenwashingindex.com states that:
It’s greenwashing when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact. It’s whitewashing, but with a green brush.
There is much more information on the Green Washing Index site and I encourage you to go read it.
Green washing can take many forms and for the purpose of this post, I am going to focus on just a few things.
1. A product that exaggerates how natural the product actually is.
This is clear from the ingredients posted above.
2. The Ad leaves out or masks important information, making the green claim sound better than it is.
They clearly left out all of the “other stuff” the ingredient contains. Probably would not have had it on the label at all, except that it is required by regulatory bodies.
3. The Ad Misleads with Visuals and/or Graphics.
This product had a green label and the words that were largest were Castor Oil. It had the largest font and was in bold. All this done to draw in the consumer.
Now, I do have to state that I have nothing against this company or their products or any other products that are not “au naturel”. My issue is the fact that they are passing it off as something it is not. This untruth does not only draw in customers on false grounds, it also does not create an equal playing field for others that are in the market with actual natural products (which are much more expensive).
Customers that are not that discerning will then wonder why a truly natural product is sold for say, N2500 while they can get a so-called natural product for N500. Drawing on probabilities, I would say that the latter will always get their money.
Last thing to say about greenwashing are below. Please tweet them (by clicking on Tweetthis in the box below) so that more people are aware!
[tweetthis]Companies that Green Wash are usually bigger & spend more on adverts & marketing than d actual product.[/tweetthis]
[tweetthis]At the end of the day, we get far less quality and help them put the products in more hands. #greenwash[/tweetthis]