CLEVELAND — When you walk into a grocery store, you see buzzwords like “green,” “natural,” “pure,” and “organic,” advertised on a large amount of both food and household projects.
They’re descriptive words, to make us everyday buyers feel a little better about what it is we are consuming.
And people look for those words.
“The less chemicals, the better,” said Michelle Serra, a shopper at Lucky’s Market in Lakewood.
They’re sold at a premium.
“If there’s proof that it works well and it says ‘natural,’ then people want that,” said Cassidy Pfeiffer, a Lucky’s Market employee.
Many people are looking for a healthier way to live, even if, at times, it comes at a heftier price.
“I want something clean. I want something safe,” said Serra. “Money is nothing compared to our health.”
Cheryl Grover, a shopper at Drug Mart in Independence agrees with Serra.
“I have a 16-year-old daughter and I rather her use stuff that’s more natural,” she said.
Grover and Serra aren’t alone; the ‘Green Market’ continues to grow.
According to Nielsen, it forecasts sustainable products to be worth somewhere between $142.4 billion and $150 billion, with companies targeting mostly women and environmentally friendly millennials.
While many of the companies are true to its labels, some are deceptive, an advertising approach known as “greenwash.’ Greenwashing is advertising a product as being good for the environment or better for us, when it really is not.
“It’s complicated, the regulatory framework that governs those, so the labels are really confusing,” said Dr. Aparna Bole, a pediatrician at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.
The Federal Trade Commission has been cracking down on it for more than 20 years, but with more people heading to the market with a green mindset, the fraud keeps growing.
The FTC just settled a case with a company called ‘Truly Organic,’ but its namesake was anything but organic. The commission found most of its beauty and lifestyle products weren’t organic or vegan at all.
Stacey Kopec is a mom of 4 children from Northfield. She is very aware of greenwashing. She now makes her own cleaning and lifestyle products herself in hopes of eliminating harsh chemicals.
“I began buying products from like Whole Foods and some more natural websites and was spending a lot of money,” she said. “It just got to be very costly buying some of these products.”
Though, she realized higher price doesn’t always mean higher quality.
“I used to go to a local health food store and it said it had lavender, tea tree, dish soap and it was ‘Next to Godliness,’ and all natural. I went to Environmental Working Group’s page,” she said. “That natural dish soap I was using rated an F.”
She said, don’t judge a bottle by its cover.
“I’m officially done buying just what is labeled ‘natural’ on a bottle.”
Here’s where you can check your household products: here.
Here’s where you can check beauty, lifestyle products: