Well, it is true that I did tell a New York Times reporter that I was “furious” about a so-called “organic” shampoo that was anything but organic – or even natural. I even sent him the blog post I wrote about it, which you can read here. In the post, I wrote about how I picked up the “organic” lice shampoo and then realized it was anything BUT organic.
“But skeptic that I am, the first two things I do when I see anything labeled “natural” or “organic” is to check the ingredients list and to look for a USDA organic certification label. Despite the “organic” claims, I didn’t see a USDA label on the Fairy Tales bottles, but I did see a long list of non-organic ingredients including major no-nos like parabens and fragrance.
According to the Environmental Working Group, “parabens can disrupt the hormone (endocrine) system, and were found in the breast cancer tumors of 19 of 20 women studied.” And the EWG reports that fragrance should be avoided in children’s products because of allergens that may contain neurotoxic or hormone-disrupting chemicals. (You can learn more about fragrance through this informative EWG video clip).”
So yes, it’s kind of a thrill to see myself quoted in The New York Times. But honestly, anyone who reads my blog posts or tweets knows that I would NEVER buy an “organic” product that does not have the USDA Organic Seal or the new NSF/ANSI 305 seal. (My original post pre-dated the introduction of the NSF seal).
That’s also why I wrote, “So dear readers, please look for the USDA Organic seal and READ LABELS on personal care products, especially those marketed to children or used by women during childbearing years.”
You may wonder why I was “furious” if I didn’t buy the product. I’m still furious. I’m furious that companies greenwash and prey on mothers’ fears, urging them to buy products that are not what they are promoted to be – organic. Mothers look for organic products because they (correctly) believe them to be purer and safer for their kids than products that are not organic. As I told the reporter, I’ve been saddened to see organics pioneers (many of them women) work long and hard to bring truly organic products to market – only to have their USDA certified organic products shelved next to fakers – products with organic on the label but synthetic ingredients inside. Of course they’re cheaper! They’re easier to make!
I’m glad that Whole Foods is cracking down on this, but I’m not entirely optimistic that things will change without a major education campaign from the Organic Trade Association. Surveys have shown that consumers believe “natural” is better than organic – even though there are no standards governing the use of the word “natural.”
So – looking to go organic? Look for the USDA Organic label or the NSF/ANSI305 label.
Anything else? Well, it’s just Greenwashing at the Kiddie Hair Salon (not the supermarket, as quoted!)
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