Big brands are becoming more unethical.
Too good to be true; I was so happy to find a 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner bar at my grocery store that smelled delicious- coconut water & mimosa flower. I was in desperate need for a new bar during quarantine. This one was packaged in cardboard with lots of claims: “cruelty-free”, “vegan”, “ethically sourced”, “100% recyclable”, “with coconut oil”…. no parabens, no guilt.. the list goes on. But as excited as I was after the first use, I re-examined the ingredients.
In the store I quickly scanned this list looking for palm oil or another name beginning with ‘palm’… under the impression that coconut oil was a replacement I grabbed it enthusiastically. It smells so good!! I kept the box on the counter for a few days when I noticed the Unilever logo. Uh oh! I thought this was an independent, boutique brand.
Palm Oil, how many names do you have?
I began googling EACH ingredient*; and there it was: stearic acid, a natural fatty acid used to help harden products like candles and soap. Well, it either comes from animal fat or palm. Therefore, if this product is cruelty-free from animals, then it most definitely is sourced from palm. After visiting Borneo, specifically going to/from Sepilok to the Kinabatagan jungle I saw the deforestation first-hand. I saw the animals that are directly affected UP CLOSE. At the time, I felt it was hypocritical to blame their society- I still do. Haven’t all well-developed countries destroyed their forests or wild lands in the developmental phases?
This specific part of Malaysia extremely focuses on Palm products as it’s main export. As a consumer, I have a responsibility… my responsibility, as it pertains to this environmental crisis, lies in what brands I support. Now that I am conscious of my behaviors as well as what’s going on in the world beyond my ‘everyday’ (or my bubble) as it pertains to palm oil, I HAVE TO hold myself accountable as part of the problem.
Malaysians are deforesting their land and growing palm farms because there is a demand. As a society, we can’t get angry and point fingers at them while we keep buying all this skincare and hygiene products made from it! It’s obvious citizens all over the world are bothered because companies are already using over 20 ‘pseudonyms’ to trick us.
Another NON “environmentally friendly” ingredient
That’s not all, I also found alarming evidence online about another product on the list: alpha-isomethyl ionone. This is an added ingredient specifically used ONLY for smell. Not a big deal.. I like how it smells, right? WRONG. “The Europen Chemicals Agency Has identified this chemical to be toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects” -Curious Chloride. I don’t imagine there is an argument how that’s “cruelty-free”, or as Unilever claims, good for the planet?!
Anyway there was about 3 of the 14 ingredients that I recognized without research; one of them being aqua. Most of them are derived from essential oil/plant based extracts. Be mindful; even essential oils can be harmful to the environment depending on the resources necessary to farm the plant, ie. rose essential oil. I should be able to easily read/pronounce and identify ingredients if they’re natural and organic.
Unilever’s Greenwashing brand.
I opened the ’boutique’ brand website, the subsidiary site for Unilever’s “environmentally conscious” brand, to see all the claims for the specific bar I bought. “Ethically sourced extract” and “sustainably sourced extract”… so does this apply to the like 6 ingredients listed added for scent? Are they hiding the palm oil acid by using coconut oil as their main “oil”? Last claim on the list “guilt free”, yeah right! I feel horrible now. Just another Greenwashing brand taking advantage of a rising industry.
Let’s not forget this is shampoo/conditioner bar. This “cruelty-free”, “for the planet”, product that gets rinsed into our drains, into our sewage, and eventually makes it to our rivers and streams IS TOXIC TO AQUATIC LIFE. What in the actual f*ck?! This is absolutely not AT ALL good for the planet or for us.
We have to take matters into our own hands.
This is so dangerous for companies that are actually producing products that CAN truthfully slap these claims on their products. Those brands and companies that are actually good for our planet have higher costs and will struggle to compete with a company like Unilever. If you know more companies that need to be called out, list them below! It’s so important to expose these brands so the real ones can make it.
… I’m still on the search for an environmentally friendly, HONEST, and truly GUILT FREE shampoo bar.
[Author’s note: I first found a compiled list of about 25 alternative names for Palm oil; of which none of the ingredients from this package was one. I then ‘Googled’ each ingredient individually. Palm Oil is renamed everyday now that there is more exposure to how terrible it is for our World to continue purchasing products made with it. Until there is an actual mandated stop, companies are not going to stop buying it as long as it is available, instead they’ll just identify it differently. BE AWARE.]