Why You Should Care About Labels on Personal Care Products?
In collaboration with Ecogarantie
A Quick Update
It’s been a while since I last posted and I have a good reason for it. In the past weeks, I exchanged interviews with Mathilde from Ecogarantie and I learnt a lot about labels.
Most often, I read the labels on food products because I want to know how it’s made and where it’s made. Further, I want to make sure that the food I consume is sustainably sourced and of course trying not to eat something that could be detrimental to my health.
I don’t know about you, but when I buy personal care products, I would pay very little attention to what goes into making the products. As long as it’s manufactured in plastic-free packaging, it didn’t concern me what went in it. After learning what Ecogarantie does I realised that I should also consider what goes into making the products I use on my body.
Ecogarantie is a not-for-profit organisation that strives “to offer you the best and safest products there are on the market”.
Read on and find out how Ecogarantie is advocating protecting the environment by extracting 100% organic and biodegradable resources. Further, works closely with producers to ensure transparency is maintained, so consumers know exactly what is in each product.
The Interview: Meet Mathilde
1. Could you tell me about yourself? How did you get involved with Ecogarantie?
My name is Mathilde, I’m 25, I live in France and I’m a Social Media and Public Relations Manager at Ecogarantie since last year. I work with Amelie, Communication and Office Manager.
When I graduated in communications last year, I was looking for a job and I found this one at Ecogarantie. I always wanted to work in a company that shares my values and that acts for a better world. Ecogarantie was a real chance for me!
Also, I love natural and clean beauty, I’ve got a lot of products in my bathroom. When I learned more about Ecogarantie, I saw that they mainly certified cosmetics and hygiene products. So I thought “it’s a job for me!”. I’m very glad to have a job that suits me and that acts for the planet at the same time.
It's great to see that you're doing something that you truly care passionately about.
2. What inspired you to get into environmental and climate activism?
We’re evolving in a world that’s facing more and more disasters. Fauna and flora are threatened, and it saddens me. I love animals, I love my planet and nature. I don’t want it to collapse.
Luckily, there are a lot of movements acting for the planet and the environment so I think it inspires me. I mean, we can all do something to take care of our planet. And I feel it those last years, with the social media expansion. We saw many things about that on the Internet and it’s motivating. If someone can do it, why not me? We have more and more tools to act for the environment but also to learn things about that. And thanks to social media, I’ve started to show more interest in these causes.
I agree with you. People can share things instantly on social media and the internet is full of stories, movements and or people just doing simple acts to protect the environment. You just need to look in the right places.
3. Who is your ‘Eco-warrior’ or someone you think is a strong advocate of spreading the awareness of environmental protectionism?
It’s difficult but I think Inés Moreau from the French Instagram account “lespetitsgestes” is the best example. I love her content since it’s simple and you understand the message directly. Her posts help with the ecological transition. I think she has a strong influence because she also has a blog and she wrote two books about homemade cosmetics and detergents with a lot of recipes. All of her content is very interesting!
I also want to talk about another Instagram account that is different from what we are used to. It’s called “lesbellesnouvelles” and it gives good news about the planet. It’s nice to read something positive about the environment so I love it. It shows that good things can happen too!
Absolutely, it's easy to get sucked into negative news and when you do stumble across people who are sharing good news, it gives you a different perspective and makes you feel hopeful.
4. What is the biggest challenge you faced at Ecogarantie?
The biggest challenge is to get Ecogarantie known. Because yes, we are an eco-label, we work for a better world but we don’t have so much visibility. Either people don’t know us at all or they know us but they are not sure of our credibility. They have wrong information or sometimes they think we are fake. So yes, it’s a big issue and it’s the biggest part of our work here. But it’s very challenging. We are working on a new communication strategy to give a good and professional image of us.
We are contacting a lot of new actors in order to get known, to show that we exist and that we’re working for a better world.
5. How about briefly telling us the meaning behind Ecogarantie?
“Eco” stands for “ecological” and the word “garantie” in French means guarantee, assurance. So if you want to understand, it means that we are an assurance of ecological products. With that name and our logo, we insist on trust and reliability.
Oh, that's inspiring and it's a smart way to show your values as well.
6. When was Ecogarantie created? What does Ecogarantie do and why?
Ecogarantie exists since 2005 and it belongs to Probila-Unitrab. Probila-Unitrab is the Belgian Federation of Processors and Distributors of Organic Products, admitted by the State Council in 1984. It’s a professional union 100% owner of the Ecogarantie label and 50% owner of the Biogarantie label (a label for food products).
So Ecogarantie is a Belgian label with an international purpose that certifies different kinds of products in the non-food sector: cosmetics, hygiene products, detergents, salts, air fresheners, pet products, baby products, feminine hygiene, candles and biocides.
7. What is Ecogarantie philosophy or mission and How are you ensuring that the information on your label is transparent?
Our main mission is to help consumers to find REAL ecological products. The Ecogarantie products are submitted to strict ecological requirements and all vegetable extracts have to be 100% organic. We are the strictest label on the market!
We are 100% neutral and transparent because we chose to collaborate with 3 independent control organisations. It means that we don't audit the products by ourselves and only the 3 organisations have the power to say if the product follows our standards or not.
8. How are you different from other companies that are promoting the use of eco-friendly products?
We are different because, in addition to promoting the use of eco-friendly products, we promise to consumers safe products, without any danger. The products are audited, they must respect different criteria so necessarily they are more than reliable!
Because you know, it’s easy to say “my product is green, it’s ecological” and to put green packaging everywhere but in reality, nothing is eco-friendly. We are fighting against this malicious practice called greenwashing. By the way, we wrote an article about that if you are interested.
Thank you for mentioning the impact of 'greenwashing' and that's a topic I would like to cover in the future. But, you're right in saying it's far too easy for companies to say 'my product is green' and of course for brands, this is a huge marketing advantage. We ought to pay more attention to how the products are made.
9. What are some of the challenges or issues with product labelling either in Belgium or across the EU? Do you work with the EU or local governments for policy change, when it comes to eco-friendly labels?
In Europe, there is no regulation concerning the certification of non-food products. Unfortunately, it allows dishonest companies to mislead consumers with greenwashing techniques, as I said just before. So that’s why we exist and we try to fight that. So no, we do not work with the EU or local governments. Our standards are independent.
You would think the EU would regulate labels for non-food products. I'm glad to know that there are people like you who are vocal and transparent about eco-labels for non-food products.
10. How do you make your products ‘eco-friendly’?
We are not making any products, that’s our members who are in charge of that. Our members are the brands that are part of our association and that get the Ecogarantie certificate. You can find them on our website. So yes, they make great products, with a safe and clean composition. Most of the time they are using vegetable extracts and those extracts must be 100% organic. There are no GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) in the products and no petrochemicals. Besides, we are not only inspecting the composition of the product. The packaging and the manufacturing process are also audited. Recyclable or reusable packaging must be used whenever it’s possible and superfluous packaging is forbidden. That’s what makes them so eco-friendly, sustainable and safe.
About the Environment & Ecology
11. According to you, what’s more, difficult when you try to reduce your waste and adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle?
I think that giving it a try is the most difficult first step. Because you have your habits, your way to consume and we know that changing is not easy for everybody. As a human, by nature, we don’t like changing, we’re afraid of it.
When you try to reduce your waste, it’s your way of life that is modified.
Because yes, waste, wrapping and plastic are everywhere. It’s really difficult to remove them from our life. Even if there are more and more alternatives (such as buying in bulk), it’s still far from our habits. And it’s not so easy to find what you are looking for when you try to reduce your waste and I think a lot of people are discouraged by that.
Yep, I can relate, bad habits die hard. However, I'm with you on, the first steps are always difficult, but it does get easier.
12. Could you briefly tell the readers, as an organisation, what are some of the difficulties when you try to reduce your waste and adopt an eco-friendly business practice?
To be honest, we do not have any office, we are working from home. That’s one of our eco-friendly business practices: we are not taking our car to go to work.
All our work can be done from home so that’s one of our policies. It’s rare to have this kind of policy and to answer your question, I think using the car is a big issue. A lot of people are taking their car to go to work and it causes the biggest part of traffic and pollution.
Another main difficulty in offices is the paper. They are using a lot and a lot of paper every day. They print a lot of documents without any real reason. And even in 2021, it’s still like that in a lot of companies.
I never understood the need for printing excessive amounts of documents, especially in the age of digital communication. But, you're right not having an office does reduce the company's carbon footprint, plus working from home is better, in terms of productivity and for the environment.
13. If you could give some advice to people who want to make sustainable choices when buying hygiene products, detergents, or cosmetics, what would it be?
Pay attention when you are buying products and trust in eco-labels. As I said before, a lot of companies are using greenwashing techniques and you can easily be manipulated.
An ecological product is good for your health and the environment and it is often certified. It’s the best way to make a sustainable choice because the product has been audited. But even if there is a certification, do not hesitate to check its website to know if it’s not a fake and that it exists.
Some brands are good to make you believe they are sustainable so if you don’t buy certified products, pay attention to the packaging. Try to ask yourself how the product is natural. Do not hesitate to check the information on their website, look at their policy and check if they have real figures or data about their ecological commitment.
Find Out More...
14. How can we find out more about your work? Do you have a blog page or Instagram account you can share?
Yes of course! We’ve got a brand new website with all the information: how to become a member, our members, the Ecogarantie certified products and our press kit.
On this website, we’ve got a blog page with articles about many subjects.
We are very active, follow us!
A Final Message
15. What would be your message for people who want to live more sustainably and make environmentally conscious decisions?
My message would be: do not hesitate! There are the people who live sustainably and the reluctant ones. Between the two we have those persons that want to launch into an ecological transition but who hesitate, who are not sure and who are afraid. I’m speaking to them: stop thinking and go! As I said before, the most difficult thing is to start. So, I think people need motivation and need somebody to tell them “it’s not so difficult to live more sustainably”.
I also want to tell them that there are a lot of accounts on social media or websites that help people in the transition. They are not alone and they can do it! And remember, nobody is perfect, you can reduce your waste and still use your car every day, but it’s important to start somewhere and not be too hard on yourself!
To finish, stop thinking that you’re just one person and that your effort will not have any impact. Because yes, it will! If everybody thinks like that, imagine the number of people who finally could make this effort.
Thank you very much for the interview.
If you enjoyed reading this interview, make sure to read the interview I gave at Ecogarantie and also you can find out more about Mathilde on her blog page.
Thank you, Mathilde, for taking the time to collaborate and I’m sure you will continue to be a strong advocate for climate action.
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