Staying Ahead of the Curve: A Guide to Educated Consumerism, Part 2

Posted by Smita Kishore on

This is the second part of a multiple-part series on educated consumerism. To read the first post in this series, click here.

Now that you know the basics of where to begin and how you can help shift the tide, it's important to stay ahead of the curve. Brands are changing overnight, and if you forget to take a closer look every now and again, you'll be surprised to learn that the company you love is no longer what it once claimed to be. 

Here are some tips to help get you started :)

1. Don't Be Duped!

The second you see a commercial for a skincare or food-related product, stop buying it. Think about it: how often do you see a commercial for a product that is actually good for you? I really began paying attention to this after seeing a Kashi commercial about 9 years ago. Kashi was the only cereal I ate for years for its clean ingredients and company values. After seeing the commercial, however, a red flag arose in my mind. To my surprise, a google search revealed the sale of Kashi to Kellogg and—not to my surprise—when I went to review the ingredients, they certainly contained new GMOs and other not-so-good-for-you items. This was the first time I truly understood that I have to stay on top of brands, even those I love, as companies are changing faster than we realize. Tip: Organic brands owned by corporations often have little say in how their parent company makes decisions, often resulting in a loss of their original values. Here's an informative infographic to give you an idea of just how many organic brands are corporation-owned. 
    Who Owns Organics Inforgraphic - Philip H. Howard
    Click here to view in high-resolution; this graphic is courtesy of Philip H. Howard, Associate Professor in Michigan State University’s Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies program, and was updated in January 2016.

    2. Look Beyond Labels

    Just because you see the word natural, organic, or ethically sourced on a label doesn't mean the product is nontoxic or good for the earth. Unfortunately, many of these products still contain harmful ingredients hidden amongst the "clean" ones. These are simply marketing ploys. Companies expect you to fall for the pretty packaging and tag words, but just like that dangerously charming guy or gal, look beyond the superficial to take a deeper look and ask yourself: What are all of the ingredients? Do they align with what you see? If a product only contains 1% of toxic chemicals, does that make it okay? If I gave you a glass of water and told you there's only 1% of poison in it, would you drink it? Then why feed it to your skin?!

    3. Know Your Ingredients.

    Know the top 10 NON-GMO foods to avoid, the Dirty Dozen, the Clean 15, the most toxic ingredients, etc. Do a Google search to help educate yourself and learn to trust your common sense. If an ingredient or message feels odd to you, trust your gut! Tip: For a list of ingredients to watch out for, check out our free e-book

    4. Love is Not Blind!

    Don't get carried away by beautiful ads, pretty packaging, or hefty prices. What looks great or expensive isn't always great for you! Remember larger companies spend a lot on psychological research as it's their job to market and sell their products to us. It's our job as consumers to decide where we place our trust. If a product is truly good for us, and a company believes in what they are doing, why would they need to spend millions on research and advertising to convince us to trust them? Show these companies that you're an educated consumer and don't fall for their marketing ploys! Tip: Why would an organic company not support GMO-labeling if they have nothing to hide? 

      GMO labeling support
        Click here to view in high-resolution; this graphic is courtesy of The Cornucopia Institute.

      5. Watch More Closely as Brands Grow.

      I used to get so sad when I'd watch my favorite companies lose touch with their roots as they made it big, but I've come to expect it. While I understand that it's not always a company's intention to lose sight of their values, I've learned to watch brands extra closely as they grow, precisely because it's harder to stay clean and green on a larger scale. Tip: Another thing to look out for is expansion into a ton of new products rapidly (e.g., Burt's Bees with makeup and protein powders) as this is typically a red flag. 

      6. Know What to Look For.

      Are they organic? Do they give back to their workers and communities? Are they eco-friendly? Who are their partners? What's their mission? Where do they source their ingredients from? What do they stand for? A lot can be learned about a company's true intent by searching the answers to these questions on their 'About Us' and 'FAQs' pages. Tip: The harder these answers are to find on a company's website, the warier you should be of trusting them!

      7. Be Choosy!

      This is your health (and money!) we're talking about here, and you have a choice as to what you support. Today, we have access to so many more brands that are committed to the earth, workers, and the world that it's more than possible to find companies growing in transparency, thanks to the internet. Do your research to find the ones that speak to you, that you love and trust, and begin there. 
        Stay tuned for the next post in this series where we'll discuss conscious grocery store swaps. Read Here!
        Love + Light,
        ~Smita :)

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