What is natural? What is organic? What is green?
When it comes to understanding labels on consumer products do not be misled by false advertising.
Going to a store in search of a “healthier” products can be daunting, especially if you’re not an expert when it comes to labels. As many families and employers open up to the potential dangers of pollution and toxin exposure, so-called "natural" products are quickly currying favor in every aspect of commerce from food to beauty products and clothing to cleaning products. So what exactly do words like "natural," "organic," and "green" actually mean?
We have a quick breakdown below to help you better understand just what certain labels mean and what labels to look for, so you can read labels with confidence.
Natural refers to a product that is made with ingredients that come from a source occurring in nature, instead of synthetically created in a lab.
Most natural products are derived from plants, minerals, or animals. However, “natural” does not necessarily mean unprocessed. Processing means that a material undergoes certain alteration changing it from its raw form into something else. Take natural soap for example. The soap product is derived from olive and coconuts, pressed to extract oils and mixed with lye solution that is turned into soap. So, although the soap originates from a natural source, there is no place in nature where you would be able to find a naturally occurring finished soap product.
Be aware that not all “natural” products are created equal. For instance, a bottle may read "made with natural ingredients" but this does not necessarily mean the entire product is natural; and in fact, may mean only a few ingredients in the product are natural. Such a product may be 90% synthetic with only 10% natural ingredients but uses the words "natural" on the label to mislead an unsuspecting buyer. Instead, look for products that say "All Natural" because typically this label means that the entire product is natural. ALL Claira products and soaps are "All Natural."
Also, be aware that some crops used to produce natural products may be treated with synthetic chemical pesticides and herbicides. Trace amounts of these chemicals are likely to have leached into the finished product. If you are looking for a product that is chemical-free, search for the label "organic" or "pesticide/herbicide-free".
Organic products are generally strictly and continuously regulated to adhere to certain quality standards. Despite this, what constitutes “organic” can differ by definition from country to country. In the United States, “organic” means that the product is made with plant or animal ingredients that were grown or raised without the continuous use of synthetic chemical pesticides, herbicides, or antibiotics. Although organic farmers try to avoid the use of such synthetic pesticides or herbicides, they may occasionally use these if the crop has been exposed to plague or disease that may otherwise wipe out the entire crop if not treated with such chemicals. Like the word "natural," be sure to read labels thoroughly to see if the entire product is organic or if this is referring to only some ingredients. Keep in mind, organic products are generally more expensive than conventional products (even "natural" products, in some cases) because there is greater risk of loss of crops that are organic and higher use of manual labor to manage those crops.
Green refers to a product’s environmental impact during production. Often Green products are those that meet specific standards of certain regulating entities such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Green Seal certification, Energy Star ratings, the Forest Stewardship Council, and the USDA. Generally, green products are non-toxic, biodegradable, and ecofriendly - but not necessarily natural or naturally derived.
Green products are often considered better for the earth than synthetic because they tend not to cause pollution in production. Despite this, not all Green Products are safe. Though their production may be ecologically beneficial, some Green products may still have deleterious human health attributes. Be aware the Green can be good. Claira cleaning products - for instance - are made with recycled materials, many raw products are sourced and manufactured locally, and all ingredients are biodegradable. Stick to products that are Green for their environmental impact and pay attention to the health aspects of those products you come into contact directly.
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