These questions are some of the bigger ones that I have around this whole adventure. You see, I’m not an organics girl by nature (no pun intended). These labels seem to be synonymous with helping better the environment and our health, but is there a difference? Is one better than the other? To me, organic means expensive. Natural means practical. Green has something to do with recycling and generally not being wasteful. Products labeled “organic” seem to be fluff to me, and natural seems more legit. Organic seems to refer more to food, and natural to anything, perhaps? Apparently I’m not alone in this confusion. Eco Pulse, a survey conducted by the Shelton Group, revealed that there was no clear majority when choosing the best kind of product description on a label between these terms.
So I did a little digging. Let’s start with organic. The USDA has a National Organic Program that develops regulations to ensure that products meet specific levels of standards. These standards ensure that products labeled “USDA Organic” are at least 95% organic. Why do I feel like I just found a word definition using the word itself. The USDA considers organic as a label of products that use “approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” The term “natural” doesn’t have any regulations tied to it however, so products can be labeled potentially as loosely as the maker would like to use it.
Apparently I had them flipped. Organic is the label that is more official and natural… not so much. How do you really know then? It seems everyone these days is trying to add some variation of this to their products because it seems to make us customers feel better. Oh yes, and it’s trendy. Stephanie over at SparkPeople gives some great tips to consider that echo what my sister and another friend mentioned yesterday too – if you can’t pronounce the ingredient, it probably doesn’t belong in or on your body.
I haven’t seen many beauty products with the USDA Organic label though. Is this because it only applies to food, or they don’t think it’s worth taking the time to go through this, or is it because it doesn’t apply? Then I did a trusty Google search for “natural vs. organic beauty products” and voila – it’s the same. The organic label does matter here too – at least from the perspective of sellers. Oh man, then new terms get added to the mix: sustainability, cruelty-free, and vegan. Sustainable: won’t kill mother nature in the process of actually tapping into her. Cruelty-free: not tested on animals. Vegan: no animal by-products.
Conclusion: Organic is actually legit. Look for products with organic labels perhaps? Let’s see how how helpful this is as we continue this quest.