How to Avoid Greenwashing in Wellness

There’s a plethora of confusing marketing jargon in the wellness industry that leaves customers confused and falling victim to purchasing not-quite-as-they-seem products. One of the most jarring aspects of ill-intentioned marketing is greenwashing—a branding trick that uses keywords associated with genuinely sustainable products to fool customers into believing the offering is more eco-friendly than it is. Greenwashed brands are tapping into the ever-growing trend of sustainability without evidence of their so-called green credentials. It can be challenging to know what red flags to look for when trying to decipher if your wellness purchase is truly sustainable. Here’s how to avoid greenwashing in wellness.

The wellness industry is all about encouraging folks to use natural products that will improve their quality of life. If a product touts green claims such as organic, all-natural, cruelty-free, and biodegradable but only provides vague information to support the claims, it’s likely clever greenwashing. Truly eco-conscious wellness brands will back up any claims about their sustainable practices by clearly outlining the company’s eco standards. They may also have carbon offsetting programs and charitable foundations.

Any product can say that it’s been made with organic ingredients as long as just one of the ingredients is organic. The same applies to products that claim they’re plant-based, all-natural, or grass-fed. If you can’t comprehend the ingredient list DM the company on social media asking them to explain exactly what is in the item and to verify whether or not all ingredients are organic, natural, or vegan. It’s also worth keeping in mind that cruelty-free is only about animal testing, it doesn’t imply that the product was made ethically nor does it assure that your purchase didn’t exploit workers.

In addition to confirming the ingredients, take into consideration the packaging of the product. Biodegradable packaging is a common form of greenwashing as not many of us have the industrial machinery needed at home to break down the biodegradable materials. A better option is compostable packaging that clearly states how long it takes to degrade in an at-home compost.

To avoid greenwashing, look for wellness brands that are authentically environmental stewards and that provide clear sustainability policies outlined on their website with a detailed FAQ explaining how the product is sourced, created, packaged, and shipped. Consider the distance the wellness product has to travel to arrive at your doorstep. It doesn’t do much good if something is truly made sustainably and eco-friendly but the packaging produces excess carbons from long-distance shipping. Many eco-conscious brands will utilize carbon-neutral shipping options from UPS and DHL.

The most assured way to feel confident that you’re making a truly eco-conscious purchase is to shop from wellness brands that have been vetted by a third-party organization such as certified Fair Trade, Fair Tax Mark, Certified Humane, or B-Corp. Third-party clean certifications include Leaping Bunny, COSMOS EcoCert, EWG Verified, and MyMicrobiome. The brands that have received this accreditation after meeting the rigorous criteria will proudly display the logo of the third party on their packaging or website.

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Lola Méndez

Lola is an independent journalist whose work has been published in many print and digital publications including CNN, Reader’s Digest, Parade, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Oprah Magazine, Architectural Digest, and more. After calling New York City home for seven years, Lola developed a necessity to become a citizen of the world. She left the States in 2015 and became a full-time globe trotter. During her travels, she’s visited over 60 countries. Lola travels to develop her own worldview and understanding of the globe’s many cultures. Lola is also a dedicated sustainability advocate. She seeks out ethical tourism experiences that benefit local communities. In addition, she is a 200-hour trained yoga teacher, practices mindfulness, lives with minimal waste, and has been plant-based for 13 years.

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