Organic Beer, Greenwashing My Peers

Organic beers have been popping up everywhere since the new millennium. Now I’m not doing this assignment to degrade the delicious taste of these beers, no no no.. I am going to focus on why organic beers are not as green as you think. Anhesuer-Busch has introduced a new line of organic beers that boast their lack of chemical and pesticides used on their barley and hops. Products such as these have been used to greenwash the drinking community into thinking that their product is somehow positively impacting the environment. This is not the case. Anheuser-Busch may be using organic methods to create their new stream of beer but their impact on the environment is still as prevalent as ever. Simple transportation of the beer across the country contributes to rising CO2 levels.

An alternate to organic beers is local beer. Local beer is a cleaner method of consumerism than organic beer. Local Breweries are located much closer than the breweries of large whole-sale companies such an Anheuser-Busch. Not to say that all organic beers are not local, but rather that local is always the better choice when deciding any product as far as lowering CO2 emissions.


The Cover Up

Ashleigh Shannon

Green-wash (green’wash’, -wôsh’) – verb: the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.

There are Seven Sins of advertisement form companies: Sin of Vagueness, Sin of Irrelevance, Sin of Hidden Trade-off, Sin of Lesser of the Two Evils, Sin of Fibbing, Sin of No Proof, and lastly the Sin of Worshiping False Labels. Greenwashing is most common in three household categories: Kids (toys and baby products), Cosmetics (beauty and health), and Cleaning Products.
From the site, they provide their study of their case in 2009, which unravels the false pretenses of how companies reel in their consumers to make them believe, that they are, in fact, doing the right thing for the environment.
Here’s a excerpt out of their executive summary;

More products are making environmental claims. The total number of ‘green’ products increased by an average of 79% (a range between 40% and 176%) in stores that were visited in both 2007 and 2008. (In a related TerraChoice study, the rate of green advertising was found to have almost tripled since 2006.)Greenwashing is still rampant, with more than 98% of ‘green’ products committing at least one of the Sins. Compared to the 2007 study, there appears to be a small decline in the frequency of greenwashing, but it is not statistically significant. Of 2,219 products making green claims in the United States and Canada, only 25 products were found to be Sin-free.
Eco-labeling is on the rise. Legitimate eco-labeling is nearly twice as common as it was last year, increasing from 13.7% to 23.4% on all ‘green’ products in the report. Kids (toys and baby products), cosmetics and cleaning products are three categories in which green claims – and greenwashing – are most common. These products, among the most common products in most households, deserve particular scrutiny from consumers. Greenwashing is an international challenge, with very similar patterns in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. The most significant differences between these countries are the environmental issues associated with the claims made on products. Water conservation was more common in Australia for example, and recyclability in the United States.

So I propose a question, If there’s a false sense of hope being put into the world by our naive mindsets, are WE willing to change it to actually make a GREEN world?


The “Green” Diaper
In their press release, Kimberly-Clark Corporation says that Huggies Pure & Natural diapers are “A super premium diaper that includes natural, organic materials and ingredients to provide gentle protection for new babies, as well as initial steps toward environmental improvements, without sacrificing performance.”
While yes it is stated that these diapers are Hypoallergenic, latex and fragrance free, that does not necessarily mean that they are the best environmentally friendly diaper on the market. They feature a breathable cover that includes organic cotton why is all the “organic” material located on the part of the diaper that does not actually come into contact with the baby’s skin. Whereas the liner includes natural aloe & vitamin E materials from renewable source as well as containing SAP (Sodium Poluacrylate) which has been banned from tampons since 1985 dues to its involvement in toxic shock syndrome in women, as well as being lethal to cats when it is inhaled. If that still sounds safe to put on your babies bottom be warned that it also can cause severe diaper rash and bleeding.
Greenwashing: Huggies Pure & Natural
The products outer packaging is sourced from 20% post-consumer recycled materials. So the plastic that isn’t even in the diaper itself just the outer packaging is recycled, and not even a large amount of it only 20%. What does that have to do with the eco-friendliness for the diapers themselves? Nothing, the outer packaging isn’t going to come into contact with the child therefore it has no actual involvement in making the diapers themselves any better for the environment.
While cloth diapers can be seen as the messier choice they also have many draws that make them a better choice when someone is looking for a ”greener” version of a diaper. With the cloth diapers you know exactly what you are putting on your child and there are no added chemicals which disposable diapers contain. Another plus of cloth diapers is that they are also a cheaper alternative to disposable, so not only will you be avoiding all those unwanted additives, but also be saving money in the long run, and reducing the amount of waste that is caused from throwing away all those disposable diapers.
-Holly Davis


“Natural Shampoos,” but how natural are they?

Today in America many Americans are being “greenwashed” by companies and organizations who produce products that are aimed to be environmental friendly. Companies and organizations spend more time and money declaring that their products are eco-friendly though advertising and marketing rather than actually changing the context of the product which is very misleading for the consumer. Over time, companies feel that engaging in greenwashing benefits their company by expanding market share at the expense of those opponents that are not involved in greenwashing, reducing the staff turnover, and also making the company seem more attractive for potential investors. It has become very common, and over the years more and more companies have engaged in greenwashing to promote environmental friendly goods for consumers. But are the products really eco-friendly? Many products have been created to be displayed as “eco-friendly” but come to find out they contain very harmful chemicals. A product that I use everyday which is displayed to be “eco-friendly”/organic is shampoo. There are many benefits of organic shampoos in which companies promote that they contain only natural, non-synthetic ingredients. While I was doing some research online, I came across a very popular shampoo that we see in stores all the time – Clairol’s Herbal Essences. I have been using this product for years, and little did I know the harmful toxins that it contained. The product contains lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol and D&C red no. 33 that are not organic products, which is false advertisement especially when most labels say “100% organic.” Companies should change the display/quality of the products and be true to their promotions.
With this being said, I feel that companies should stay true to their product. If the product is “all-natural”, then the product needs to contain all natural ingredients. There are some people out here who are completely eco-friendly freaks and once they research the actual ingredients it can then become a controversy and loose many consumers. Many implication of making a product completely all-natural would be the prices of using those types of products without using “toxins,” could cost the company more than their willing to spend on their products, but after that being done it will drive sales because they have been true to their eco-friendly promotion.

-Sophie Moyer


Green Bum

Mariam Mirza

Today I present to you a diaper that is also eco-friendly. Realizing how much space and money it takes to purchase diapers it just keeps adding up. With that going eco-friendly to help with the environment was a positive benefit as an outcome. Is it really though? Are we being misinformed or being led on? That is where we are being green washed or as they say “brainwashed”. As much as the outside of the box looks eco-friendly with the color green all over, it is hiding much of that dirt in the label section. Having done research found some dirt on how this is considered green washing. They cannot confirm if they are free of fragrance. Also don’t warn us about the gel they use to keep the diapers absorbent.

As considering it is taking an approach towards the eco-friendly and making it green shows the customer it is supporting a good cause. The box in color green shows awareness for our planet. Another thing that caught my attention was the different races of babies shown on the ads and boxes. This promotes the product to many different people making it a favorite for many. The wide variety of selection in sizes is also a smart idea for keeping the customers with them throughout the baby’s diaper years. This will help the company make more profit in the long run. Marketing is a big way to keep a product in the eye for the customers of today. Like many people, when it comes to their child they want the best of the best. By marketing the Huggies diapers with logos of organic and green signs shows the customer it will be the best for their kid. Today’s technology being so advanced is able to promote the product online and give some facts and details before the customer purchases. Also available for an online purchase it benefits the companies make profit in that sense as well. Instead of still using chemicals to make the dye of the diaper appear white even after the baby goes potty, having it stick to the old roots and making it a cloth diaper. This also is recyclable. In the long run this could benefit the company as well.


Natural and Organic Cosmetics?

One of the biggest industries playing a part in greenwashing is common cosmetics. These products include makeup, shampoo, lotion, spray tans, etc. In this blog post I will be focusing on popular brands of shampoo. It is becoming more and more popular for products to revamp their look adding the words natural and organic to their names and labels. Some products are what they claim to be but most fall short and are using what is called “green washing” to get you to buy their products. Green washing is when a product is promoted as “green” and environmentally friendly but in actuality they work in the opposite way. Typically when a shampoo or makeup claims that they are natural or organic they are not. I, as well as many others, have become a victim of these new sleek pretty bottles with the words natural and organic. Front of bottles will have listed a few of the ingredients which indeed are natural but you turn the bottle around listed are the same harsh dyes and chemicals which are the same ingredients used in other products they are claiming to be set apart from.
A few examples include:
Suave just released a new shampoo and conditioner called Suave Professional Natural Infusion which is advertised to not carry dies, parabens, and to be infused with exotic ingredients. The new bottle is gold with green accent leaves. When taking a closer look the top three ingredients listed are WATER (AQUA) , Sodium Laureth sulfate , sodium chloride. Sodium Lureth sulfate is used to help the product foam well and is not expensive to use in products. This product has been proven to cause issues with eye development, it has been linked to cataracts, and is a proven skin irritant. The third ingredient listed is sodium chloride (salt) which is harmful to hair because it causes it to dry, scalp to itch, and in some cases hair loss.

Organix is a more expensive shampoo and conditioner who’s tag line is “the way nature intended.” The front of these bottles list the natural and exotic ingredients while explaining what they are doing for your hair. Their Hydrating Teatree Mint Oil Shampoo claims to moisturize and strengthen your hair, while adding replenishing proteins, and oils help hydrate and control balance. This is what they want you to believe sets them apart from other shampoos. This products top three ingredients are DI Water (Aqua), Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine. The second ingredient is similar to the second ingredient listed on Suave’s list. DLS has larger molecules that do not penetrate the skin as easily which causes less irritation. But it is not an organic ingredient. The third ingredient is an organic compound derived from coconut oil.

While Organix is a slightly better shampoo it still carries some of the same ingredients as Suave but costs a few more dollars. Typically all shampoos are made of the same ingredients no matter what the front of the bottle claims. It is important when trying to avoid being green washed to look at the list of ingredients and research them. This is true with all store bought products. Don’t be fooled by what is in bold on the front!


What the Organic Label Really Means

Although when the USDA originally created the organic seal in October of 2002 the intentions were pure, due to marketing and uninformed consumers, the label has taken on a life of its own. Upon spotting an organic seal on a package of strawberries in the super market, most consumers believe this product is safer, better for the environment and healthier opposed to the strawberries sitting beside them lacking the label. Organic, by most consumers’ definitions, has evolved into a cure-all, ethical, and environmentally friendly option. Consumers assume “organic” means chemical free, more nutritious, environmentally friendly, and hormone free. It’s become a romanticized back-to-nature obsession for those who can afford the label.

“People believe it must be better for you if it’s organic,” says Phil Howard, an assistant professor of community, food and agriculture at Michigan State University.

It’s not completely the consumers’ fault most define “organic” by these standards. Large companies that came out with organic lines of their products after it started becoming popular, Driscoll’s for example have run with this preconceived definition the consumer created for organic. Often using comforting words like natural and nurture alongside “organic” the consumer associated the definitions. As defined by the USDA, “Organic agriculture produces products using methods that preserve the environment and avoid most synthetic materials, such as pesticides and antibiotics.” ((Full Definition Here)) There are exceptions to the basic rule of not using synthetic materials, and the list of approved synthetic chemicals can be found here. USDA Approved ChemicalsI’m not arguing that the lack of conventional pesticides on produce is a bad thing, but I am pointing out that organic does not mean chemical free.
Secondly, it is not taken into account by the consumer the carbon footprint created by shipping organic strawberries from south America verse the much smaller footprint created by purchasing local sustainably grown berries. Driscoll’s produces majority of “organic” strawberries seen in the super market. For 8 months out of the year, Driscoll’s is sourcing their organic berries from “Central Mexico”. Although it is not directly Driscoll’s fault for the lack of informed consumer’s, from a marketing standpoint they have embraced the assumed definition of organic, allowing the customer to dismiss the fact that their berries are from thousands of miles away and dismissing the fact that outsourcing for produce greatly increases ones carbon footprint. By food traveling large distances, by planes, trains, trucks, and ships, the pollution is contributing to global warming and unhealthy air quality. Today, the typical American prepared meal contains, on average, ingredients from at least five countries outside the United States. Imports by airplane have a substantial impact on global warming pollution. In 2005, the import of fruits, nuts, and vegetables into California by airplane released more than 70,000 tons of CO2, which is equivalent to more than 12,000 cars on the road. (National Resource Defense Council) I am not dismissing the organic produce market or claiming that conventional produce is better for you, but I am claiming that when making the decision to buy organic imported produce verse local sustainably grown produce, the local produce is most likely less daunting on the environment.
Choosing local produce supports your community and reduces fuel consumption and pollution associated with transporting food all by eating food directly from a farmer. Although not all local growers may be organic, because they are growing on a small scale many utilize many organic practices and grow using sustainable practices. Farmer’s markets are a great resource to find local food and connect directly with growers. As food trade has greatly increased with population increase, you can make an impact by choosing food grown closer to home.