Yes, it takes some extra effort to learn about and understand what goes into the products we routinely use and bring into our homes. On the other hand, learning is always a positive force and knowledge is power, which feels really good! It’s worth the effort to become an ingredient detective, and it’s actually not that hard.
The reality is that food and product label claims such as ‘natural’, ‘organic’, ‘biodegradable’, ‘ethical’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘non-toxic’ are almost completely unregulated. The opportunities for ‘green-washing’ are still rife and you don’t want to get trapped into thinking you are making great consumer choices when you actually aren’t.
The first step in becoming an ingredient detective is knowing how to read an ingredient label. Luckily, it isn’t rocket science, and real insights are not that hard to gain. As a first rule of thumb, you can divide the ingredient list roughly into thirds. The top third usually contains 90%-95% of the ingredients in your product; the middle third usually contains about 5%-8% of the ingredients; and the bottom third is likely to contain just 1%-3% of the ingredients. That quick analysis gives you a quick snapshot as to what you mainly are eating, applying to your skin, and using around your home.
It’s so important to know what you are buying and using in your home that South Africa’s largest and most well-established organic and natural products online store, Faithful to Nature, has entered into an industry safe-guarding partnership with TOPIC. This is a consumer-led NPO organisation funded by consumers and retailers committed to transparency and accuracy. TOPIC uses laboratory testing, as well as farm and factory visits to establish that ingredients are verified and that label claims are accurate.
This goes a long way to understanding what you are really buying when it comes to the ingredients of a product. It also helps to have a basic awareness of the common synthetic ‘nasties’ that some so-called organic products contain.
“Natural ingredients need to stand out on the ingredient list,” says entrepreneur and sustainability innovator, Robyn Smith of Faithful to Nature. “If a product is really as natural as its label claims, then the ingredients should be easily recognisable and listed up high. If they are not, then the warning bells should start to ring.”
There are a few widely used nasty synthetic ingredients in products that are presented as ingredients in ‘healthy’ products. The Faithful to Nature Pocket Guide complies and explains these nasties’, empowering you to avoid them. You can add this guide to your shopping cart when you check out at www.faithful-to-nature.co.za and it will be sent free with your order.