Some greenwash with that face wash?

It's been a busy couple of weeks at YouSay towers. We've been working with The Soil Association for a few months now. Honing and shaping a fantastic campaign for their annual push on organic in September.  Working with the health and beauty team we put together a PR opp to kick-off the campaign.

This week they launched the #OrganicBeauty weekend which will be on 7th & 8th September.  

Below is an extract from the news story the Soil Association press office put out on Monday which appeared in The Telegraph, Daily Mail, HuffPost, Vogue Online and was cited in a follow-up piece on Telegraph Online: 

Speaking today (3 June) at the Organic Natural Beauty Show, Peter   Melchett, Soil Association policy director highlights the number of  harmful chemicals found in beauty products labelled as ‘organic’ and  ‘natural’ or ‘nature inspired’.

Ingredients often found in antifreeze, floor cleaner, oven cleaner or car oil and ingredients banned in children’s food and toys are making their way into non-certified beauty products labelled as organic or natural due to a lack of industry regulation.

The Soil Association believes consumers are being misled and is calling on the health and beauty industry to use terms like ‘organic and ‘natural’ accurately or not at all.

Under Soil Association standards, to use the word organic in the product name, a product must contain over 95% organic ingredients, excluding water.

In 2012 Boots was investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over the marketing of ‘Little Me Organics Oh So Gentle Hair and Body Wash’. The ASA ruled Boots’ advertising was misleading as the product contains less than 5% organic ingredients.  The ASA found that a product should be defined as organic only if it contains a high proportion of organic ingredients.

Unfortunately, Boots and others have not taken on board the implications of this ruling. For example, a Boots facial oil currently on sale says it is 100% organic on the box, but it actually contains at least four non-organic ingredients.  To provide customers with an accurate product description, Boots should state which ingredients are certified organic, and what proportion of the product, excluding water, this represents.

The Soil Association also found a selection of other Boots ‘botanics’ products claiming to be organic and some which even use their own Boots logo to make this claim, including Organic Hot Cloth Cleansing Balm and Organic Rosewater Toning Spritz.  While some of the individual ingredients in these products may be certified organic, the products themselves are not certified. The Soil Association believes this is misleading customers.

Boots is not alone, Soil Association informal research also found a Nivea ‘Pure and Natural’ handcream carrying an unofficial leaf stamp that claims the product is 95% natural. However this product contains Methylisothiazolinone, a preservative which some claim could be carcinogenic and is suspected of causing nerve damage. The research also found a range of hair and body products made by US cosmetics company Organix.5 Organix coconut shampoo contains no organic ingredients, is not certified and contains potential carcinogens. Neither product would be permitted under Soil Association certification.

Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director said; "It is wrong that people are putting chemicals found in antifreeze, paint, oven cleaner and floor cleaner on their skin, when they thought they were buying  a product made from only natural  or organic ingredients. This must stop.

“There is a lot of confusion about organic health and beauty products and the Soil Association is always happy to give advice to producers and retailers.  To try and help tackle this problem, we are coordinating a national  Organic Beauty Weekend on the 7th and 8th of September.6   The Soil Association will be organising a range of taster and sample sessions with some of the UK’s most significant organic health and beauty brands, producers and retailers.  We would be delighted to hear from other producers and retailers who would like to join in."