In the United States, words such as “clean,” “eco-friendly,” and “green” commonly appear on product labels and in marketing campaigns, but their use isn’t actually regulated by any governing body. Instead, companies can—and do—use this language to lure in consumers, rendering conscious decision-making difficult. To make sense of it all, we tapped into the spirit of ahimsa (nonharming); consulted environmental, beauty, and manufacturing experts; and researched ingredients and production practices to develop our own guidelines for what it means to be green, which you’ll find below.
And so, without further ado, we present our first-ever Green Choice Awards. In a world of Best lists, the focus here is not on perfect, but better—better for your body, for the environment, for the world at large.
Focus on Reducing and Reusing
Recycling is the first step in closing the loop, but don’t forget about the reduce and reuse parts of the equation. A whopping 91 percent of plastic goes unrecycled, so the most powerful move we can make is to stop buying petroleum products in the first place. Instead, look for companies with creative solutions for packaging that can be refilled or repurposed.
Green Choice Guidelines
1. The product must not contain chemicals known to be harmful to the environment or to humans.
Sure, this may seem like a no-brainer, but the US Food and Drug Administration bans or restricts just 11 chemicals and ingredients in personal-care products and cosmetics; by contrast, the European Union prohibits the use of more than 1,300 that are known to cause serious illnesses, genetic disorders, birth defects, and reproductive problems. We’ve taken all of that into consideration, avoiding any chemicals or ingredients on the EU blacklist or identified as harmful by nonprofit advocacy organization the Environmental Working Group.