With so many new brands on the market, from shampoo to apples at your supermarket claiming to be ‘organic,’ how do you know what is mealy fact, or merely marketing spin?
We need to begin by defining the term organic, as it is being used in the industry:
“Organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilisers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionising radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones” (www.organic.org)
Unfortunately, usage of term 'organic' is not controlled as many other industry claims are. Modern marketing techniques are sophisticated to a point that a general consumer believes they are buying organic, but in fact, they are purchasing something as, if not more potentially dangers than any other brand on the market! Warning signs of brands in this category are:
- those claiming to be 100% certified organic
- brands with stickers on the label that are not from reputable, third-party verified sources
So how is this justified from a marketing perspective? As a working example, let's take a skincare product that is claiming to be 100% organic. As long as ONE ingredient is 100% organic, the claim can be made "this product contains 100% organic coconut oil" (or any ingredient they are making a claim on). The remainder of the composition can be made up of any non-certified ingredients. As consumers, it's us to us to read the ingredient list and rest of the label to determine if the statement is true or not!
So is this ethical behaviour?
Absolutely not. In fact, within the organic and sustainability industry, this practice is called "greenwashing'. It is where companies attempt to make claims that are at best miss-leading, at worst, simply an unscrupulous tactic to fool people into trusting them, and essentially wasting money on products that are not healthy and often not safe.
So how can you as an individual beat the marketing machine?
You really have two choices.
- You can take the time to learn every single ingredient, reading peer-reviewed studies and researching across a broad range of sources. Obviously a painstaking chore.
- Is to look for a third party certifying seal of approval. Here are links to some of the leading certifying bodies that offer tight regulations and policies for brands to adhere to:
- Australian Certified Organic -https://aco.net.au/
- USDA Organic - https://www.usda.gov/topics/organic
- Soil Association - https://www.soilassociation.org/
- Europen Organic Certification
Healthy, Happy and Lovingly
Article by: The Le Bono Team