Greenwashing and feeling duped

Have you ever felt “duped” by a company or product claiming to be green, clean and healthy?

In my journey to live a healthy, happy life I have become more mindful and careful about labels and ingredients — in my skincare, makeup, food.

But sometimes, if I’m in a rush/tired/generally feeling meh, I make mistakes. Like that time a few years ago when I asked a salesperson at Ulta to help me find an “all natural face wash for people with sensitive skin.” She was really nice, and handed me a package with green coloring, the word “Simple” in huge letters, and a nice natural swoosh of leaves and grass. Perfect. Sold!

…Until I get home, use the stuff for a few days and then realize the ingredient list includes methylparaben.

Simple Moisturizing Facial Wash

Don’t even get me started on healthy foods. For years I just wanted SOMEONE to give me some damn answers. The “right” answers. I just wanted to make healthy choices.

So yes, in my post-college days as a busy young professional, frozen dinners with their green healthy-looking swooshes and compelling front-of-package claims, backed by the American Heart Association or another equally trustworthy-sounding organization’s seal of approval found their way into my shopping cart on more than one occasion. It was just so … enticing. Convenient, cheap and healthy? Sign me up!

But of course these meals are typically packed with sodium, preservatives, dyes and natural flavors designed to trick us into believing the conventionally grown, soggy vegetables and meats inside are tasty.

It can be so frustrating when you just want a short cut. Just tell me what to do!

In my experience, there aren’t many short cuts. Doing your own research, making food from scratch and being skeptical of claims is the best way to go. It’s more work up front but it’s worth it when you’re not dealing with itchy eyes from a chemical in your face wash or a constant stomach ache/head ache/etc. from hard-to-pronounce preservatives in your food.

For the record, I don’t think it’s all marketer and front-of-package designers fault. I think a larger shift needs to happen in the way we consume. The good news is, I do think it’s starting to happen. Major companies are changing their formulas, removing harmful dyes in our food, paying attention to what consumers say.

So let’s keep it up! Vote with your dollar. And forgive yourself if you buy something that turns out to be not-so-great.

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