how to spot greenwashingPicture this – you’re at a health food store looking for a new laundry detergent, and you find one that looks good enough for you to pick up off the shelf. You think to yourself “This looks promising!”. It seems to have “health” written all over it. Non GMO? Check. Green? Check. Eco-friendly? Check. So it must be an ok product to use in your house, right? Think again!

    What Is Greenwashing?

    Greenwashing refers to when companies use advertising and marketing tactics to falsely brand their products as “green” in an effort to trick consumers into thinking their products are healthier, not harmful to the environment and safe to use. Companies often use vague, misleading and confusing terms and images to brand things like food, cleaning and personal care products a certain way.

    It’s crazy what companies can get away with when it comes to not disclosing the truth of their products, which means as consumers, we have to be vigilant when it comes to purchasing these products. Now that you’re more familiar with what greenwashing is, we want to help you identify greenwashed products during your next shop:

    1. Always read labels

    The only way to tell whether or not a product is “healthy” is by carefully reading the label! Whether it’s food or a beauty product, companies will slap on whatever they can to give their product a “healthy” or “eco-friendly” appeal, whether or not it actually IS what they say it is. Marketers will use slogans and branding traps to trick you. For example, just because there are a certain number of “natural ingredients” added to a product, doesn’t make it clean and non-toxic. Reading an ingredients list fully is essential to making the best choices!

    2. Know the difference between non-GMO and organic

    Non-GMO is great, but it also creates a false sense of trust in the consumer as some will assume this gives a product the green light. In reality, non-GMO products are deceiving as they can still actually be highly glyphosated and toxic. This label tricks consumers into thinking what they are buying is natural, and it gives it that “organic” vibe without actually being organic. For this reason, it’s best to buy organic products as ALL organic products are ALL non-GMO, so it’s best to stick with these. I mean, what’s the point of buying a product that’s “non-GMO” if it’s still loaded with toxins?

    3. Don’t fall for branding traps

    Can you believe marketers will go as far as using “fake” symbols to try to deceive us? Marketers are mimicking third-party environmental certifications on their products to entice consumers to make purchases. We bet you’ve seen products with a symbol like a green circle with a check-mark through it, making it APPEAR “green” when in reality it could be far from it.

    4. Don’t always trust slogans

    Ever see a product that paints the words “all-natural” on it’s label? Well, take a closer look at the ingredients list! Although a company can’t blatantly claim to be an all-natural product if it’s full of chemicals, there’s a loop hole. Since the FDA doesn’t regulate the term (“all natural”), there are no official rules and regulations. This means that marketers can use the term as a slogan, which is very misleading! In many cases, products that appear to be natural will contain ingredients with plant compounds in combination with synthesized chemicals.

    5. Don’t let “green” images fool you

    Another trap marketers and advertisers use is to use images of nature on their products. Studies in Europe show that people respond favourably to products that have a photo of nature associated with them. When you think about it, this makes sense. Even having a picture of nature as your desktop or phone background is said to have health benefits like lowered blood pressure, improved mood and reduced stress. That same part of our brain is being triggered when we see a product associated with photo of nature. It invokes a “feel good”, relaxing feeling.

    PRO TIP: Use EWG’s Database

    The Environmental Working Group is a great tool when it comes to identifying whether cleaning products, like floor cleaners, kitchen sprays, laundry detergents and so on are green or not. EWG’s guide to healthy cleaning, helps you to decode labels, find great products for household needs and even uses the latest research/science to rate them for you based on toxicity levels.


    About The Movement Boutique in Toronto – Pilates, Chiropractic, Functional Medicine

    TMB The Movement Boutique Located on Yonge Street in Toronto, The Movement Boutique serves the areas of Summerhill, Rosedale and Yorkdale with Pilates classes and much more. Our philosophy is centred on a holistic, multimodal approach to health, grounded in the latest therapeutic techniques and clinical research. Our approach: Optimal health cannot be attained through a single therapeutic lens; injuries are often the result of a constellation of lifestyle issues, including dysfunctional movement patterns, trauma, nutritional deficiencies or destructive habits of mind.