Most of us want to do the good thing and have no problem reaching for something that says green, organic or all natural on our grocery shelves these days. Heck, we’re even willing to pay a little bit more for them. It is the least we can do, right?
Well, while consumers are trying to do their best, many companies are doing their best to make it look like they’re doing anything besides looking for loopholes.
Most people don’t have time to research every single green label they put in the shopping cart, so they’re putting their faith into these companies telling the truth. However, that trust is often betrayed.
Here are a few ways that companies lie to us about being green.
It’s a classic trick used by the oldest of magicians. Do something flashy with the left hand while the right one does something you don’t want people to see.
One company that has been accused of doing this is LUSH Cosmetics. They are well known for their aggressive ways of marketing the fact that they don’t test their products on animals, using provocative ad campaigns of testing on naked women.
With such a memorable impression tied to this brand, you can only assume that a brand this committed to cruelty testing is good across the board and also environmentally-friendly, right?
Not necessarily. They have also been criticized for vague ingredient lists that have been known to contain parabens.
Weasel Words and Loopholes
Say everything, but promise nothing. This is another tactic as old as marketing itself. Let the audience hear what they want to hear, but always include an exit strategy in the sales copy. In previous generations ads were full of weasel words that may have included:
Help: “This can help you lower your cholesterol.” Help, but, definitely not by itself
Fight: “Help fight acne.” Fight, but, definitely not cure
Today, however, green weasel words are more specific but just as empty. For example, take the word “natural.” What would you assume that word promises if you see it on a piece of meat at the grocery store?
Well, it turns out that:
- About 68% of consumers believe that meat should come from animals fed no artificial growth hormones
- Another 60% would assume it means no GMOs
When in fact the FDA’s strict definition of this word is vague at best, and nowhere in line with what the average consumer assumes it means.
A shocking report from Consumer Reports also shed some light on other words that we may trust, including that the words “Humanely Raised” have no actual definition.
As a rule of thumb, the word “organic” is more trustworthy than the word “natural.” For meat to be labeled organic, it has to stay true to being raised without being given any sort of antibiotics or growth hormones. The true definition of “natural” does not make these promises.
So what is an average consumer to do today? Research the foods that you buy the most often so you can know that you’re buying something legit. You can also turn the label around and read the ingredient list to see what is really being used in an “all natural” product.
Do you want to warn us about any “fake green” products? Let us know in the comments below.