We asked all the companies on our Lousy Label list how much of their product was natural or organic. Here's what they told us:
Aubrey Organics | Avalon Organics | Aveeno | CoverGirl | Fa | Huggies | Organic Surge | Seventh Generation | TRESemme
Marketplace's question for Aubrey Organics:
Can you tell me the percentage of organic content in your products?
Answer from Patrycja Townes, Media & Advertising Director, Aubrey Organics:
"Some of our products are 100 per cent Organic and some are made with Organic Ingredients. ALL of our products are 100 per cent Natural - meaning NONE of them have any chemicals what so ever in them. We do not provide any sort of break-down of the percentages of Organic ingredients. All information about all our products in on the website."
Aubrey's website that had two or fewer organic ingredients – including several with no organic ingredients at all – so we called the company with additional questions. Pat Basin, Manager Operations and Marketing Services, Aubrey Organics took our call:
WHY DON'T YOU HAVE A MINIMUM STANDARD FOR ORGANIC CONTENT IN YOUR PRODUCTS? IS IT JUST NOT POSSIBLE TO BE COMPLETELY ORGANIC?
Well no, it is very expensive to do all organic. And with our name with Aubrey Organics, we've had that name for over 40 years. And what we've actually done, and what we're working on right now to try to make it clearer for the consumer is if a product does not have that USDA seal on it we're actually putting the name on our bottles to just say Aubrey. And then the ones that have the percentage of USDA so that we can put a seal on there, it will remain Aubrey Organics.
WHY HAVE YOU DECIDED TO MAKE THIS CHANGE?
We do get calls from customers because they're confused. And because there's so many other lines coming out using the name organics it's making it more confusing and so Aubrey Organics decided to make a stand and we care about the consumer and what's best for them to make an educated decision on purchasing a product.
Avalon Organics (Owned by Hain Celestial Group)
Marketplace's question for Avalon Organics:
What is the minimum percentage of organic content in Avalon Organic products?
Answer: From Lisa Lehndorff, Director, Corporate and Consumer Relations, Hain Celestial Group:
"Unfortunately, we are not able to share this information. Our formulations are proprietary and we do not disclose them."
Aveeno (owned by Johnson & Johnson)
Marketplace's question for Aveeno: What percentage of the content of your products is natural?
Answer from Alicia Storey, Senior Account Executive, Edelman public relations
AVEENO(r) products are made with ACTIVE NATURALS(tm); natural ingredients that have been scientifically shown to deliver real, proven skin care benefits. Our definition of ACTIVE NATURALS(tm) references ingredients derived from nature and uniquely formulated by AVEENO(r) to promote skin's health and beauty. These active naturals include colloidal oatmeal, soy, feverfew PFE, shiitake mushroom complex and southernwood extract, which deliver effective skincare benefits through breakthrough product formulations that are unique to the AVEENO(r) brand.
We do not disclose the percentage of ACTIVE NATURALS(tm) ingredients in our products for competitive reasons.
AVEENO(r) has been using ACTIVE NATURALS(tm) in our formulations for more than 60 years. We are committed to bringing the balance of science and nature to each consumer by finding the most innovative, clinically proven formulations for the best natural ingredients. As a result of this commitment, AVEENO(r) is the skincare brand with natural ingredients that is most trusted by dermatologists.
CoverGirl (owned by Proctor & Gamble)
Marketplace's questions for CoverGirl:
What makes your NatureLuxe foundation natural? What percentage of the ingredients are natural?
Response from Melissa Montgomery, PR Manager – Hair Care & Cosmetics, Proctor & Gamble:
CoverGirl NatureLuxe is a make-up line that exchanges select heavier synthetics for natural ingredients that were carefully selected to help achieve a lightweight feel. NatureLuxe is for the woman who wants a makeup look that feels lightweight and luxurious, not someone who is looking for an all-natural cosmetic product. We don't consider COVERGIRL NatureLuxe to fit within the all-naturals cosmetics category.
You had asked about the percentage of natural ingredients and I'd like to speak to that. The cosmetic industry is a highly competitive business and as such, our product formulations are propriety which is why we are unable to provide specific ingredient percentages. The natural ingredients in NatureLuxe were specifically chosen to help achieve the lightweight, luxurious feel of the NatureLuxe line and our claims focus on these benefits.
Fa (owned by Henkel)
Marketplace's questions for Fa:
For the Fa Natural and Soft White Tea & Bamboo Milk Foam Bath, what makes this product a natural product?
What differentiates it from other Fa foam baths?
What percentage of the content is natural?
Response from Jennifer Caballero, Henkel Consumer Goods Canada:
1. For the Fa Natural and Soft White Tea & Bamboo Milk Foam Bath, what makes this product a natural product?
This foam bath is enriched with bamboo milk and natural white tea extract. Ingredients used in this foam bath are from "natural origin". We use naturally based ingredients. Naturally based means, that either the whole molecule is present in nature (like the dry matter of plant extracts or pure vitamin C) OR a part of the molecule is present in nature, the other part is chemically derived (like for sodium lauryl ether sulfate or Vitamin E acetate).
2. What differentiates it from other FA foam baths?
I was not able to get an answer for this.
3. What percentage of the content is natural?
94 per cent
Huggies (owned by Kimberly-Clark):
Questions for Huggies:
1. What's the breakdown of renewable and organic materials in the Huggies Pure and Natural diapers?
2. What makes the Huggies Natural Care wipes natural?
Answer from Alyson Gomez, Corporate Communications, Kimberly-Clark:
Here is the information you requested:
Huggies brand Pure & Natural Diapers:
- Plastic packaging contains 20 per cent Post Consumer Recycled (PCR) materials to reduce the use of petroleum-based plastics
- Diaper lining is made from 50 per cent PLA, a corn-based replacement for petroleum-based polymers.
- Outer cover contains organic cotton and print graphics contain less inks than other Huggies diapers
- P&N diaper lining includes Vitamin E and Aloe; to help maintain baby's healthy-looking skin
- Perfume Free and Latex Free
Huggies brand Natural Care Baby Wipes:
- Formulation is 98 per cent water
- The formulation contains natural Moisturizers including aloe and glycerin.
- The base sheet is made of natural fibers (wood pulp) – 73 per cent wood pulp.
- Natural Care baby wipes are free of perfumes and dyes.
Since we still had no idea how much of the actual diaper was organic, we followed up with two more questions.
1. What percentage of the cotton used in the diapers is organic?
2. What percentage of the outer layer is made up of organic cotton?
Here was the response:
"While all of the cotton that is used in Huggies brand Pure & Natural diapers meets the USDA organic standard, we cannot provide details related to your second question as that is proprietary information."
We wanted to hear from Huggies about these issues, and asked for an on-camera interview. They declined, and instead, offered this statement:
At Kimberly-Clark, the safety and satisfaction of our consumers is an absolute priority.
Regarding our Huggies brand Pure and Natural diapers and our Huggies brand Natural Care baby wipes, we have not positioned those products as wholly natural, but instead as products providing gentle protection for new babies, while offering our consumers the option of products that include some natural ingredients as well as other product features.
Specifically, the Huggies brand Pure and Natural diapers include organic and natural materials to balance benefits for baby while taking steps toward environmental improvements. Huggies brand Pure and Natural diapers are the only disposable diapers within North America to use organic cotton, and it is included in the outer cover of the product. The diapers include natural Aloe & Vitamin E, contain a renewable material derived from corn starch in the liner, are hypoallergenic, and latex and fragrance free. Additionally, the packaging materials for Pure and Natural diapers are sourced from 20 per cent post-consumer recycled materials.
As to our Huggies brand Natural Care wipes, they include Vitamin E and natural Aloe. Additionally, Huggies brand is the only major baby wipes manufacturer to use a basesheet largely comprised of pulp fibers, a renewable resource. In contrast, most other baby wipes manufacturers produce their wipes with a basesheet comprised of petroleum derived polymer materials.
Water is the main ingredient in the solution present in Huggies brand Natural Care wipes, and in fact all branded baby wipes. Irrespective of brand, they all also contain ingredients to prevent the development of bacterial and/or fungal contamination. For this purpose, Huggies brand Natural Care baby wipes contain the ingredients methylparaben and methylisothiazolinone (MIT) at levels approved by Health Canada as well as by 25 regulatory authorities and countries around the world, including the U.S., Europe and Japan.
At Kimberly-Clark, we have a strong base of satisfied users of our Huggies brand products throughout the world who can continue to be reassured by our pre-eminent concern for their health and wellbeing.
Marketplace's questions for Organic Surge:
Which ingredients in Organic Surge products are organic?
Who is the organic certifier?
Do you have any standard as to the minimum amount of organic content in your products?
What percentage of product content is organic?
Response from Alan MacKenzie, founder of Organic Surge
We are in a state of change as we move Organic Surge formulations to organic certified versions, so I have outlined the situation below.
Organic Surge products blend naturally-derived ingredients and certified organic essential oils. The organic essential oils give the products their intense, refreshing ‘surge' of fragrance both in the pack and in use. The organic essential oils are sourced from various countries so certification bodies vary, examples are the UK Soil Association and Ecocert. Organic Surge products were not certified organic at launch, which was not an issue with UK retailers. However, following feedback from consumers we decided to move to certified formulations across the range to remove any confusion.
As you may be aware, various European organic certification bodies have been working together for over 2 years to develop a standard, European certification called Cosmos. Cosmos certification was originally scheduled to launch over a year ago but has been moved back several times and has only just been finalised.
Having made the decision to introduce organic certification, we were increasingly frustrated by this delay and eventually decided to progress with Ecocert certification instead of waiting for Cosmos. Ecocert is the most widely-recognised certification body in Europe.
So, while it is later than intended, we are now producing Ecocert-certified versions of the highest-selling Organic Surge products, such as shower gel, hand wash, facial cleanser and face wash. Certified versions of other products in the range will follow as new stock is produced.
There are 2 levels of Ecocert certification, ‘natural cosmetic' and ‘natural and organic cosmetic'. Organic Surge has opted for the higher ‘natural and organic' certification, details can be found at http://www.ecocert.com/en/natural-and-organic-cosmetics
I hope this helps to explains the certification status for Organic Surge.
We wanted to follow up about a few things, so we wanted to find out: Will all Organic Surge products be certified?
Here's the response from MacKenzie:
The vast majority of Organic Surge products will be certified. The exceptions are the few products where organic certification requirements significantly compromise product performance.
For example, Organic Surge Shampoos will be certified but Organic Surge Conditioners will not. Our expert natural formulators have worked long and hard to develop a certifiable Conditioner that we would be happy to present under the Organic Surge brand, but have been unsuccessful. During the process we tested dozens of certified organic conditioners currently on the market, none of which provided satisfactory results.
We are not prepared to compromise on product performance to make the range comply with certification standards, where an important ingredient, while natural, may not be on their list of permitted ingredients.
Q & A with Louis Chapdelaine, Product Director of Fibers, Seventh Generation
I'M WONDERING IF YOU CAN TELL ME WHY THEY'RE A GREENER CHOICE THAN MORE CONVENTIONAL DIAPERS ON THE MARKET, OR IF THEY ARE, I GUESS.
We strongly believe in avoiding the use of chlorine containing chemicals in our product. Not just in baby diapers but pretty much anything. But as it pertains to the bleaching and whitening of paper products, we believe that avoiding the use of chlorine containing chemicals is the right way to go.
I THOUGHT THAT MOST DIAPERS ON THE MARKET TODAY WERE CHLORINE FREE. IS THAT NOT CORRECT?
It's a debate. Pulp and paper used to be bleached with elemental chlorine, which is a gas, a long time ago. The industry, to a great extent, no longer does that. Now they use chlorine dioxide, which is a different gas formed with chlorine, and is much less dangerous than chlorine itself. The industry acknowledged that chlorine is a dangerous chemical, so they're using something different, but from our perspective, it is not zero. We believe that there are alternatives to bleaching with chlorine.
OTHER THAN CHLORINE, ARE OTHER DIAPERS ON THE MARKET MORE PROBLEMATIC (EITHER ENVIRONMENTALLY OR IN TERMS OF HUMAN HEALTH) COMPARED WITH SEVENTH GENERATION DIAPERS?
No. At this point, chlorine free is the main element of differentiation.
DOES SEVENTH GENERATION USE RECYCLED FIBRES/PLASTICS IN ITS DIAPERS?
No we do not at this point. This said, I should mention that we did conduct a research to assess consumer acceptance for recycled materials in a baby care product design. The result of our research indicated that this would be something to be approached very, very carefully. Consumers readily recognize the green value of a recycled material which simplifies the sustainability messaging but allowing it to be in contact with their baby is something that also raises many questions and concerns which need to be taken seriously.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO USE A PIGMENT IN THE DIAPERS?
We've always used colour. What's new is that we recently decided to disclose that we do. And it's not just one thing. We decided to disclose our ingredients, all of our ingredients. We believe that consumers have the right to know what's in the soup. Then all of the world sees that we use a pigment in our baby diapers. And to many, it seems to be new, but that's not new. In fact, I would suggest that the question is not so much why Seventh Generation is using pigment in its diapers, it should be why is this industry using pigment in its products.
WHY DID SEVENTH GENERATION DECIDE TO GO WITH A BROWN PIGMENT INSTEAD OF WHITE?
To a great extent I would say product differentiation. Because our other main differentiator, which is that we are chlorine free, you cannot really see that difference with the naked eye. It's there, we know it's there, but it's only an element of differentiation if people can hone in on the fact that this is chlorine free, and that it has something to do with the wood pulp. In this particular case, being chlorine-free has nothing to do with the components that are coloured. It's to bring an element of differentiation.
WHY NOT MAKE A DIAPER WITH NO PIGMENT?
I'm an engineer, I'm a technical guy, so at one point I wanted to know how the consumer would react if the plastic had zero pigmentation. Because personally, that's what I like, I like the idea that you don't have to use pigment. Just like many other things, if you don't need them, why use them? So we tested some prototypes in focus groups. And conceptually, some people liked the fact that there was no pigment. But as soon as they saw the prototype of what a diaper would look like that had no pigmentation, it completely turned them off. They readily rejected the concept. They wouldn't even go through with the session, they were done. even consumers who want to make a greener choice. They don't necessarily want to look at the urine of their baby in the product when the urine is there. Everyone has got a limit of what they're willing and not willing to do and the reality is that what we would have to do to take the pigment out of there would be a bit shocking for what the consumer's willing to accept right now. We cannot bring a greener product to this world if we sell something that consumers don't want to buy.
TRESemme (owned by Alberto-Culver)
Questions for TRESemme:
1. What percentage of the product is natural?
2. What percentage of the product is organic?
3. How is the product more natural than other products/other TRESemme products?
4. You advertise that the products contain no dyes. Do other TRESemme products?
5. You advertise that the shampoo is low-sulfate. Can you tell me how much lower it is than other TRESemme shampoos?
Response from Jim Gibson, Director of Marketing, Alberto-Culver Canada:
I want to thank you for the enquiry on the TRESemme Naturals product range as it relates to the story you are working on based on our brief conversation.
The TRESemme Naturals range is formulated to deliver a high performance cleansing and conditioning experience for those consumers who through personal preference/reasons would like to avoid or have reduced levels of certain ingredients in their beauty products. Consumers continue to become very well versed about all products and as they gather information, communicate strong preferences for specific product benefits and ingredients which we at Alberto Culver work to fulfill. In the case of the TRESemme Naturals range, the reduced surfactant level and no dyes are two factors that set the Naturals range apart from other products.
We at Alberto Culver are proud of the rigour with which we test all our formulations and corresponding claims prior to launching new products in the marketplace. In addition, we ensure that we meet all the requirements of the Canadian advertising regulations which exist to protect consumers from false claims and support truth in advertising.