Greenwashing - What is it?

Greenwashing is a term that has only recently come to light. Originally, it was only a problem in large corporations, but it is becoming more and more popular in the world of small businesses. The unfortunate part is how much of a negative effect it can have on small businesses that are actually putting in the work and doing the right thing. So, let’s talk about it:

What is greenwashing?
Greenwashing is when a company uses claims such as being environmentally friendly, natural, or healthy as a selling feature, when their product is not. Of course, it is not always as simple as this, but that’s the gist of it.

Before launching Naturelle, I put hours into researching how to produce my products in a way that is sustainable and ethical. I find it incredibly frustrating to see false claims on other candle makers’ products. There is arguably nothing wrong with making a candle that isn’t 100% natural or eco-friendly, there is a huge market for them, but the problem occurs when they use false claims and false advertising to reach vulnerable customers.

The best thing I can do is promise that my products will always be made naturally and ethically. I will continue to be transparent about my ingredients and processes, because I want to build trust with my customers. Although I can’t do anything about the ways that other companies market their products, I can share the knowledge I acquire to educate my consumers so that they know what they are supporting.

How can I avoid being greenwashed?

As somebody who is very passionate about reducing my ecological footprint, I love finding products or companies that I know I can trust. I am currently working on a list of my favourites, so that you can support them too.

For the purpose of sticking to my niche, I will specifically be talking about candles and body-care today. The best thing you can do to avoid being greenwashed is to read the ingredients list. If a product’s ingredient list cannot be found, the producer most likely has something to hide.

Common claims on candle labels include the following:

  • Naturel soy wax blend
    • The wax may contain natural soy wax, but is mixed with either other waxes, or chemical additives. If the wax list contains a mixture of soy and coconut, or soy and beeswax, you are safe. If paraffin is on the list, it is full of chemicals. 
  • Natural fragrances
    • It is common for new candle makers, or candle makers who have not done extensive research to believe that fragrance oils are natural. Fragrance oils contain between 3000-5000 chemicals and are completely synthetic. If you are looking for a naturally scented candle, look for a candle fragranced with essential oils, not fragrance oils. I would love to be able to trust a company when they have "non-toxic fragrances" written in their bio on Instagram, but we can't always be sure. 

For a detailed list of harmful ingredients to look out for, click here

If the environment, and supporting small businesses who share your same values  is important to you, I encourage you to pay attention to the red flags of greenwashing. Though our industry is filled with companies who are willing to take advantage of their customers, there are even more who put incredible amounts of love and passion into their products. 

Do you have a favourite eco-friendly company? Leave me a comment below so I can check them out!

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