What is Greenwashing?

Everything you need to know about this hot topic!

What even is greenwashing? Why does it matter to me? We hear people talking about it but why is it even important? Well, put your marketing caps on- here we go folks, greenwashing and everything you should know about it!

There is nothing more frustrating than attempting to rid your house of toxins only to be tricked into buying things that are actually still full of chemicals. I was super guilty of this when we first tried to rid our home of toxins. I honestly thought that I was doing the best thing for my family. In reality, the products I was buying were maybe just a tiny bit better. This lead me down the deep twisted path of a marketing tactic called greenwashing. Once learning about it, I knew I had to share. I knew I needed to make a way for this to be more easily understood. I’m hoping this will help you forego the mistakes I made.

It’s super sad that it isn’t clear what to look for to avoid buying the wrong thing. There are so many companies that advertise as “clean” and “non-toxic.” The information isn’t shared enough so that people know what to look for. In my post about homemade all purpose cleaner I shared with you the top 10 chemicals that you should be looking for. This post also contains a lot of other names that the chemicals may be called so that you can know better what you are looking at. If you haven’t taken a look at it this post is a wealth of information. 


For today though, I want to share some of the most well known greenwashed companies out there. We’ll talk through the deceptive terms that these companies use to draw in unsuspecting people. Plus some pictures of how they draw us in.

What is Greenwashing?

Before we dive in we should know what greenwashing is. I love the definition that Leyla Acaroglu gave in her article. She says “when companies invest more time and money on marketing their products or brand as “green” rather than actually doing the hard work to ensure that it is sustainable — this is called greenwashing.” Basically, these companies are making you believe that they care about your health and the environment. Secretly though, they aren’t actually creating products that achieve that goal. We look for terms like natural, vegan, eco friendly, green, hypoallergenic, and cruelty free. Companies may advertise these things but it might only relate to the packaging or to some of the ingredients that they have adjusted. They use these “buzzwords” to draw us in and make us think that we are buying products with good ingredients.

What Companies Greenwash?

So what companies are doing this? Well, a lot actually. Keuring, Nestle, Tide, and Charmin to name a few. Those are all companies that I also associate toxins with so I was already working to clear those out of our house. 

One of the companies that I fell for was Method from Target. There is actually a class-action lawsuit out against Method. This is for their false claims that their product is “non-toxic” when they actually include ingredients that are harmful to both people and animals. I bought laundry soap, bathroom cleaner, toilet cleaner, and soaps before I realized that this brand was part of the trickery. I was ordering from Grove at the time and foolishly assumed they wouldn’t trick me. They are promoted as a more non-toxic company so assumed these were going to be fine. We wanted non-toxic but didn’t want to spend a ton of money and that is where Method fit in.

We should have known then that I would be getting what I paid for. A lower cost typically means they are filled with chemicals. As soon as I started using the bathroom cleaner I realized that it was not good for me. Every single time I used it, until it’s very last use, it made me sneeze. I have allergies and I have no doubt that whatever was in that cleaner was making me sneeze. What is Method’s version of greenwashing? They draw us in with their “plant based” and smart-clean technology claims.

Method's version of greenwashing shown on their laundry detergent.

Prepare your heart for the next company, I’m not sure you are ready to hear it…

The other company that I filled my house with is…Mrs. Meyers. They seem like they are better and their super cute packaging with their amazing scents make them so incredibly hard to resist. I also bought lotions, cleaners, and soaps before I realized the trap that I had fallen into. Using the EWG’s website we can see that the majority of their products get a ranking of “D,” which is not good. That is actually 72% of their products so the chances are if you have one in your house it has some toxic ingredients in it. They did not have one single product that got an A which tells me that this is one of the most greenwashed brands out there.

I know so many people, including myself, that think they are a better brand. Their marketing and the terms that they use make us feel like they must be non-toxic and better for the environment. Their products contain ingredients that can cause skin irritation, allergies, and hormonal disruption. On top of that, they can be toxic to the environment around us as well. It’s so important that as you start to look at the products that you are using not only for your own health but for the impact that they have on the world around us too. 

Method cleaners and room spray. A direct look at their greenwashing marketing tactics where they trick us into thinking it's non-toxic.

Mrs. Meyers looks like it should be a better option. I mean, just look at the pretty bottles that they have. They have plants on them and talk about the environment so they must be great! Wrong. That is the very definition of greenwashing. They are using their marketing tactics including putting plants on their bottles and associating things with nature so we think that they use natural things in their products. In actuality, they don’t and a lot of their items have fragrance in them. They list out some of the bad ingredients that they don’t use to make you think that is better too. Reality is, the ones they are listing is bad but they basically just replaced it with something else.

Chemicals and Homesteading

When I first stumbled into homesteading I loved it for many reasons. It fit into our life because it fit into our goals and not just because I wanted to grow more of my own food and raise more animals. Food is important and should be at the forefront of what we are doing, but it’s deeper than that. We also need to look at what we are doing inside of our home and the products we expose our families too.

Even if we are raising our own meat and food so that we keep out toxic ingredients it won’t make any difference if we are filling our home with toxic cleaners and personal products. You can give your family the best food in the world but if they are slathering themselves in lotion that will disrupt their endocrine system and has possible carcinogens then all of the other work you are doing is irrelevant. 

I’m sharing this for knowledge and hope that you all won’t fall into the same trap that I did. I don’t want to put down companies but I also think we all deserve some honesty. If you are using these in your home, please don’t feel ashamed. Still to this very day I have both of these brands in my house. Things are too expensive and I am too frugal to just throw them out. We started 2020 with a house full of toxins and we’re starting 2021 with less than half of that. I did not throw our old products away. I used all of them up and then replaced them as they ran out. Just take baby steps to eliminating them and before you know it they will all be gone! 

https://medium.com/disruptive-design/what-is-greenwashing-how-to-spot-it-and-stop-it-c44f3d130d5

https://www.truthinadvertising.org/tag/environment/

https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/4794-MrsMeyersCleanDayLavenderAllPurposeCleaner/

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