Greenwashing is what companies will do to their product packaging and marketing terminology to try to appear less toxic than they are. It’s a word modeled after “whitewash”. It’s designed to give you the impression that the products are somehow eco-friendly. This kind of marketing counts on people not doing their homework.

At first glance it’s hard for people to tell which companies are actually environmentally friendly and which ones aren’t. They want to support sustainable practices and will choose a green box over a red one even if what is in the green box is no different than what’s in the red. They’ll choose something that says “all natural” or “[toxic sounding chemical] free” when “all natural” means nothing and “[toxic sounding chemical]” isn’t in anything either. Some consumers will know this and dismiss the whole green category as a marketing ploy. But, that’s not helpful either.

I have companies reaching out to me all the time to try to get me to carry their “all natural” products. I appreciate the attempt, but it rarely ends up being as they’re presenting it and I’m confident that they don’t even know it. I take the information and do the research. I run ingredients. item by item, through databases and read toxicology reports. When a company makes a claim about an ingredient, I track their citations and read the medical journals. Research and learning is one of my hobbies.

Many plant based products won’t necessarily have studies performed on them because they’re not chemicals trying to get federal approval for distribution. They’re plants. A lot of the time, I can find the information on medicinal or cosmetic uses of plants from respected resources in the wellness community.

Ideally, the businesses you support with your dollars should have integrity. They should be what they say they are. It’s for financial reasons that companies will have their feet in both puddles, the “green” one and the “red” one. The non-green companies spend way more money to get your attention and trust than the green ones, because the green ones are spending their money being green.

Nature takes longer than a lab. You have to wait for a plant to grow through the cycles, phases, and seasons. It soaks up the sun, it gets fed by the eco-system, it draws in nutrients from the soil. Then, when picked, it gives that hard work back to you. And, as the definition of “sustainable” implies, the act of picking it makes it grow more. The act of growing it makes the soil more nutrient dense. It makes the eco-system thrive with life.

If you’ve ever seen an abandoned house, you’ll notice the various ways that nature reclaims its territory. Read about the ways bacteria will learn the tactics of antibiotics and adjust to become stronger. Science is a student of nature, and nature will always win. That’s why I think it’s the smart thing for us, as humans, to join forces with and learn the rhythms of nature. It’s the only way to be on the winning side. I see a lot of well-meaning eco-friendly messages out there convincing us to “save the planet” and that “there’s no planet b”. I get what they’re saying, but the message is a little off. We don’t need to save the planet because the planet is fighting back. It’s fighting back with aggressive storms, extreme temperatures, inflammatory autoimmune diseases, and otherwise making itself inhospitable to the force that is harming it. Us. We don’t need to save the planet. We need to save ourselves. We do this by working with the planet, by getting back to nature.