Greenwashing: What Companies Do To Get Your Money

By Kristie Turck •  Published 11/04/11 •  3 min read

Last updated on July 27th, 2022 at 08:36 pm

I was lying in bed last night watching Vampire Diaries (don’t judge me…  I like angst-ridden teen television) when a Pantene Nature Fusion Shampoo commercial came on.  It was the typical Eva Mendez flipping her unnaturally shiny hair around and pouting her big lips at me, trying to sell me shampoo to make my hair “stronger” and unbreakable like a superhero.  This is the kind of commercial I am used to. Basic marketing baloney to sell a product. But what got my attention was the marketing language for this new “Nature Fusion”  shampoo. “Want to make a healthy choice for your hair, and a healthy choice for the environment?”.  Hold on, back up a second… greenwashing?

How Greenwashing Is Used To Make You Feel Healthier

Pantene saw an opportunity, like every other large company, to take advantage of consumers wanting safer and more environmentally safe products.  So instead of cleaning up the products they already sell (like J&J did with their new “Natural” line of baby shampoo), they add a “natural” product line to their arsenal to draw you in.  To make it seem like they are trying, Pantene claims their Nature Fusion shampoo is packaged in a 59% plant-based plastic bottle – but not the cap. Wow! All 59% of it? You really must love the planet Pantene.

This is an ingredients list for their new Nature Fusion shampoo:

Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Chloride, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Xylene Sulfonate, Cocamide MEA, Cassia Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, Calendula (Calendula Officinalis) Flower Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract (Ginger), Panthenol, Panthenyl Ethyl Ether, Citric Acid, Dimethiconol, Fragrance, Sodium Benzoate, Disodium EDTA, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Sodium Citrate, Yellow 5, Orange 4

Breakdown Of the Chemicals Found In a “Green” Shampoo

My point here is that if they cared about the environment and saving the planet, they wouldn’t be selling products that contain harmful chemicals, which get washed down the drain and into our water systems, polluting our environment.  They toss in a minute amount of aloe and flower extracts, which they can call natural.  But it’s far from it.  Providing it in a partially plant-based bottle? That’s just their way of pretending to be environmentally conscious so that your money goes into their wallets.

Top it off with a gorgeous high, paid actress, and you’ve got some classic Greenwashing.

If your looking for safer products, check out my Cheat Sheets.