Thanks for joining me for Week 3 of this series! Today we’re going to dig into three separate ways brands might be tricking you into thinking a product is a better choice than it is:
Pinkwashing is a marketing tactic that describes the exploitation of breast cancer to help a company look good from a PR perspective or to increase their sales. It happens when companies use a pink ribbon or pink packaging (often in October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month) to indicate support of breast cancer without actually meaningfully supporting breast cancer research, prevention, or awareness.
To make matters worse, sometimes you’ll see this pinkwashing on a product that even INCLUDES ingredients linked to breast cancer. 😡😡😡 Though the overall intent to donate money to breast cancer research and prevention organizations might be a good one, the potentially carcinogenic products themselves take away from that effort in a big way. (It’s an example of irony in such a dangerous way!)
You can read more about how problematic pinkwashing is here.
When you encounter pinkwashing out “in the wild,” – whether it’s a potentially harmful personal care product or a pink sticker slapped on something like a water bottle – remember this: The BEST way to financially support breast cancer research is to donate directly to organizations that are doing that work. (More about that next week!)
Greenwashing happens when a company adds words, colors, or images to a product’s packaging to make it seem more eco-friendly than it actually is. Maybe the product comes in a green container, or has beautiful nature images on it, or boasts terms like “natural” or “recyclable.”
Those kinds of things tend to increase our likelihood to purchase a product because we think we’re doing something good for the earth in the process. The issue is, there’s little regulation when it comes to product packaging, and so the claims may be true…or NOT.
Here’s a helpful article with some tips on things to be aware of when you’re looking to spot greenwashing.
Cleanwashing is sometimes included within the greenwashing definition, but I prefer to call them out as separate offenders. While greenwashing is a tactic companies use to make their products seem more environmentally friendly, cleanwashing is when a company attempts to trick customers into thinking their products are made with safer ingredients than they actually are.
The truth is, there is no regulation to these definitions here, either, which means a company can say their product is “clean” or “non-toxic,” in order to keep up with trends, and the product may or may not actually be what it claims.
It can be SO confusing, but here are some good tips on things to look for to avoid cleanwashing.
Other Ways To Avoid These
Of course, a great way to avoid greenwashing AND cleanwashing (and, in some instances, even pinkwashing) is by using resources like the EWG’s Healthy Living app to check products.
When it comes to personal care products, there is truly no more tested brand on the market than Beautycounter.
One big reason I switched to BC products before I even became a consultant was that it made my life SO MUCH EASIER. The cleanwashing and greenwashing gets SO confusing and overwhelming, but I knew I could trust this brand to be what it said it was. I didn’t have to scrutinize labels or laboriously research — I could use any product and feel great about it (both from a safety AND environmentally conscious standpoint).
For this week’s giveaway entry, share one example of pinkwashing, greenwashing, or cleanwashing you’ve encountered “out in the wild”! Enter by replying to the email that sent you to this post.