Along with the proliferation of ‘natural’, Eco-friendly’, ‘organic’, ‘green’, ‘earth-friendly’ and other declarations appearing on product labels over the past few years, I’m also seeing this catchy phrase more often on blogs, Facebook posts and websites.
Often enough that I felt compelled to take a closer look at this statement. There are several assumptions that are being made here:
a) natural is always better for you
b) natural things have simple names
c) chemicals always have long, unpronounceable names
d) all chemicals are bad for you
So lets take these one at a time.
a) Natural is not always better. The world is full of natural things that are very bad for you, and could kill you, starting with nasty germs, mold and fungi, which will appear in your lovely natural water-based lotions if the manufacturer is irresponsible by not including a possibly unpronounceable preservative. It is lovely to buy a lotion that waxes on eloquently about including fresh fruits and berries….have you looked at fresh berries forgotten in the fridge for a couple of weeks? Eewww! That is exactly what may be growing unseen in your unpreserved lotion.
Other natural things that could harm you: belladonna, wild mushrooms, comfrey, snake venom..the list is endless.
b) c) and d) Natural things do not always have simple names. Salt is really sodium chloride. Water is dihydrogen oxide. Steviol glycoside is also known as stevia, and thiamine mononitrate is good old Vitamin B1. Everything we eat or drink is a chemical, and has a complicated name…we just don’t use them.
So why are there so many long, complicated, unpronounceable names on products? They are there because the government says we have to put them there. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re either synthetic, or bad for you.
Next time you find yourself assuming a product is full of synthetics, (which is what you really mean, not chemicals), just because the ingredients are hard to pronounce, stop and take the time to ask yourself “what is sodium bicarbonate, anyway?” It’s plain old baking soda. In the end, it’s not about being able to pronounce the ingredients, it’s about understanding what they are, and why they are there.
Personally, I’m not too worried when I see unpronounceable names…a quick Google search will help you figure them out. What worries me more is when the list is a mile long, and its just a bar of soap! BumbleBee Lane SoapWorks, as well as many other amazing soap and cosmetic makers I’ve come to know, believe that it’s better to have fewer, higher quality ingredients than to throw in the kitchen sink just because you can!
Something to think about…..