As you walk up and down the aisles of the Personal Care products trying to decide which lotion or deodorant to take home, you notice the words “natural” and “organic”. Of course being the ethical shopper you are, this organic announcement will sway your decision. But what if someone exposed the fact that it’s certainly possible this product does not contain natural and organic ingredients? Unlike the food industry, there is no enforcement of regulations on organic and natural claims for personal care products such as shampoos, lotions, and moisturizers. Unfortunately, some companies are taking advantage of the Green craze and labeling their products as natural or organic when they don’t quite meet the standards, thus confusing and duping consumers. It is basically fraud.
How do you know what you are buying is legitimately natural or organic? As it stands now there are standards set up by the USDA, however they are not enforced like other products such as food and cotton. For instance some companies may gain organic certification for one or two items in their line and claim to be a purely organic company. Another situation that happens frequently is chemical ingredients such as phenoxyethanol, ethylhexyl glycerin, or sorbates will be listed as natural ingredients. When, in fact, they are not natural nor organic. Clearly, this is a huge issue as it is not fair to consumers nor the organic movement. The ambiguous terms just stall the movement because the public is not only confused but will begin to mistrust anything labeled organic, setting back those who adhere to the rules.
In order to combat the issue, the Organic Consumers Association has launched the Coming Clean Campaign. They are urging companies who are falsely labeling their products as either natural or organic “come clean” with their claims. It is a call for them to either make moves to become legitimately USDA Organically Certified or to halt all usage of the terms. OCA has also pushed the USDA to become much more strict and have personal products live up to the same standards as their organic food brethren. The OCA has worked hard for years for this false advertising to end and have now come up with a clear plan on how the USDA can better regulate these products. However, the biggest threat this campaign poses is the boycott. OCA is calling is giving these companies until October 31st to either drop the organic labels or move to get properly certified or they will be revealing the names of the companies. They will then urge consumers to boycott the products on the list, right before the holiday season. The threat is pretty intense, as we all know the power of the dollar.
We applaud the OCA and their determination to expose this fraud. However, what are you as the consumer supposed to do in the meantime? Only trust products with a specific USDA Organic label on them. Also, read the ingredients every time. If the product lists individual organic ingredients and doesn’t seem to contain any chemical based additives, then you are likely good to go! Try your best to avoid products that are labeled as having “organic” water, as this is a distraction from the fact that they likely contain detergents that are in fact, not natural in any way. You can always contact the company directly as well to find out if they are in fact USDA certified and which ingredients are in fact natural.
So in the coming weeks pay attention to the OCA and their list of organic “cheaters,” because this fraudulent behaviour has to be stopped. In the meantime, try your best to decipher through the many organic claims to find the most legitimate products.