Abusing Cause Marketing: First Pinkwashing and Now Greenwashing?! Oh My!
Most people would nod their heads in agreement with me if I stated that marketing can be misleading and shouldn’t be trusted as a complete and accurate source of information. However, it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of confidence in your newest purchase by the package’s claims of “all-natural”, “organic”, or a plethora of “green-friendly” buzz words. But really what does this mean about the product and more importantly what does it mean about the safety of the product for human use? As it turns out, not a lot.
Several weeks ago I wrote a blog post about the practice of “pinkwashing”, or marketing products with the pink Breast Cancer ribbon in order to sell more product without actually supporting the charitable cause. Turns out basically the same thing is going on in the environmentally friendly market and is referred to as “greenwashing“. Did you know there is little to no definition or oversight for most “green-friendly” terms in the food, cleaning, or cosmetic industries? Did you know it’s perfectly legal to sell products with known carcinogens in them in each of these industries, even potentially with a label touting the healthy nature of the product?
I remember when it was more convenient for me to presume these were inflated claims made by alarmist’s. I naively assumed that the United States Government *must*, in fact, have adequate controls on these industries for the protecting of public health. When I ended up with Breast Cancer at 29 years old for no explainable reason, I started learning more on this topic. The more I learned, the more I found that these claims of little regulation and common place of toxic chemicals and radiation are largely founded, accurate, and supported by hard science performed by reputable universities. Cancer-causing chemicals are literally everywhere in our environment. Here in California you don’t have to go far to find a Prop 65 warning; I happen to know there is one in my downtown parking garage and also one in at least one aisle of most stores. These were meant to alert us of danger and instead they became so common place we began to tune them out.
Curious? Overwhelmed? I’m personally doing two things in response to this information:
- Making lifestyle choices to minimize my exposure to toxic chemicals. To get started, I didn’t do anything extreme. I simply downloaded a free App (like the Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Living App) for my smart phone. The App provides the capability to scan the bar code on your existing beauty and cleaning products or search by name. The App will then bring up a score on a scale of 1 to 10 indicating how safe the product is for human use as well as additional details on the ingredients. It’s actually pretty interesting in a nerdy sort of way. As I need new products, I purchase a product with a better safety score. Over time, my cabinet has been replaced with better, safer products some of which I’ll share in future blogs!
- Advocating with the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP) to eliminate exposure to these toxic chemicals on a societal scale.
I’d encourage you to check out the ingredients of the products in your home. You may be interested in what you find!