Many products on the market today claim to be “natural”. But what does that actually mean? For example, to some people a “natural” product must have pronounceable ingredients that can be identified without a chemistry book. To others a “natural” product is a product comprised of only vegetable ingredients. This lack of a concrete definition leaves a lot of wiggle room for companies trying to trick their consumers into buying products that are by far less “natural” than they claim to be. That’s why it’s incredibly important to agree on the meaning of the term “natural”. The clarification will help socially responsible companies stand out from the rest.
WHAT DOES A “NATURAL” PRODUCT MEAN AT MERKAELA?
At Merkaela, we’re concerned that the word “natural” has been rendered meaningless by its proliferation on the labels of major corporations. We define “natural” products as products containing ingredients free of chemicals and/or synthetic-compounds. That’s why we work with authentic essential oils, organic herbs and botanicals, vegetable-based preservatives, and reusable rather than disposable resources.
We do NOT add artificial fragrances or preservatives to our products. We do NOT test our products on animals or engage in other harmful or unethical business practices. We always strive to make socially and environmentally responsible choices and take the responsibility inherent in those choices very, very seriously. Our products are biodegradable, safe, and 100% non-toxic.
AREN’T SYNTHETIC AND CHEMICAL INGREDIENTS ALSO SAFE?
Some ingredients in mass-marketed soaps include detergent chemicals, artificial colors and fragrances, petrochemicals, pesticides and many other substances that have been shown to be harmful to mammals. These ingredients are NOT natural and may cause a variety of severe symptoms such as prolonged skin irritation and serious allergic reactions. Certain companies mix natural and synthetic ingredients, while claiming that their products are still technically “natural”. This however, is completely untrue.
WHY DOES THE “NATURAL” LABEL MATTER?
Synthetic ingredients usually cost less than natural ones, giving mass-market corporations a competitive advantage. But synthetic ingredients can also be toxic, which means the competitive edge is often gained at the consumers’ expense. As a result, the people are increasingly demanding products that are healthier as well as better for the environment. Most established companies are now well aware of this fact. In an effort to stay competitive and benefit from “green” consumerism, some of these companies have jumped on the “natural” bandwagon by cranking up their marketing machines.
Instead of changing their business practices, they misleadingly labeled many of their genetically manipulated and chemically altered products as “natural”. Though they intentionally misinform their consumers, having a loose definition of the term enables them to continue to do it. Just take a closer look at the shelves in your supermarket or pharmacy. Examine the ingredients of the products you find there. Chances are you will see a multitude of “natural” claims on products that clearly aren’t. At Merkaela, when we say our products are “natural” – we mean it.
CAN ANY PRODUCT CLAIM TO BE NATURAL?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is tasked with tracking down perpetrators of deceptive environmental claims. This, however, does not specifically include addressing false “natural” product marketing. Though a section in The Code of Federal Regulations does state: “… every express and material implied claim that the general assertion conveys to reasonable consumers about an objective quality, feature or attribute of a product or service must be substantiated.”
With so many products on the market claiming to be “natural” and with so few government resources to investigate these claims, it is up to consumers to identify what products are truly natural.