Greenwashing, hype, misinformation & discombobulation!

Greenwashing, hype, misinformation & discombobulation!


Frankie Apothecary customers are keen to help create a healthier world, use less harmful products on their bodies and their children, and to avoid inflicting harm on other creatures.

Yay!! We absolutely love these goals and share them with you! 

The problem is that there are so many ambiguous terms being used in marketing and a fair amount of deliberate misinformation. We've put together this Q&A to try to help clarify a few things - and help smash greenwashing!

At the end of the day, shopping ethically involves a complex algorithm and a lot of thought. It's up to you which factors will be most important, and what you are willing to compromise on. Is cruelty free a deal-breaker? If it is 100% organic but made in the USA, do the carbon miles outweigh the lack of pesticides?

Have a read and let us know what other questions you have in the comments below!


What does Natural mean?

Natural generally means a product wasn't created in a laboratory with synthetic ingredients. But often on labels or marketing this is a very, very broadly used term. Some brands use the word Nature or Natural in the name of their product, when it is anything but naturally produced. Others use ingredients that are natural but definitely not harmless. The majority of 'natural' lipstick brands use Lake Red colours which are derived from naturally occurring coal tar and petrochemicals. And mica, which imbues so many natural cosmetics with that stunning shimmer can be naturally contaminated with heavy metals from its time in the ground. After all, a lump of uranium could be marketed as natural.

So what about if a naturally derived product is refined or fermented in a lab? For example, we use Sodium Coco-Sulfate (a sodium salt of the sulfate ester of coconut alcohol) in our solid shampoo bars. It is not synthetically derived, but it is altered to provide better cleansing properties. Most solid shampoo bars use this ingredient and it scores a 1 with the Environmental Working Group which is their safest rating.

We think that the benefit of the more effective product is worth processing the natural ingredient to create a salt.


What does Organic mean?

This is another term which is heavily used in greenwash marketing as the name of a product, or because a product may contain one organic ingredient. Some well known brands state on their label what percentage organic the product is and we applaud their transparency.

But including an organic ingredient, or even producing a 100% organic product does not mean it is harmless, natural and safe. It just means that the producer has proven that pesticides were not added. 

Organic products can contain any number of synthetic chemicals, as long as no one sprayed the crops used for the plant-derived ingredients.

A lot of our ingredients are organic, but unless every ingredient is organic, we won't put it on the label. Our wild-harvested Kawakawa is definitely NOT sprayed, but it also doesn't have organic certification so it isn't on the label.


Are all chemicals nasty?

No! Everything has a chemical formula, from salt to vodka to love. Yes, really. 

C8H11NO2+C10H12N2O+C43H66N12O12S2 is the popular formula for love, combining the naturally occurring chemicals dopamine, seratonin and oxytocin!

So let's say it - ALL our products contain chemicals.

Lovely, gentle, safe, almost all naturally occurring (we're looking at you again Sodium Coco-Sulfate) and all harmless chemicals that help nature and us bring you the beautiful Frankie Apothecary range.

Kawakawa's miraculous chemical Myrsticin is C11H12O3 for example - this is the beautiful naturally occurring chemical in our Kawakawa Balm that that helps block pain impulses from eczema!

This is why we try to differentiate the 'nasties' (parabens, SLS, pthalates etc) from the 'normals'. Frankie Apothecary contains no nasty chemicals.


How cruelty free is that bunny icon?

Don't worry, Frankie is 100% cruelty free and always will be! But for some brands, a bunny icon can just be a labeling after-thought! This isn't exactly green-washing - but it really is ethic-washing!

New Zealand outlawed testing on animals for cosmetics, but (and it's a big 'but') - we didn't ban testing on animals for other reasons, we didn't ban the import of products tested on animals, any brand can source ingredients tested on animals outside NZ, any brands sold in China will be tested on animals in China with or without the manufacturer's knowledge, and any NZ brand can get their product tested on animals overseas.

We promise, hand on heart, that the only animals we test our products on are consenting humans. 


 What other questions would you like answered? Comment below or email us!

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