Difference between natural and organic

The words ‘natural’, ‘eco’ and ‘organic’ appear so readily on hair and body care products. It’s hard to know what to believe but if you understand the difference between natural and organic it makes choosing much easier.

If the product doesn’t wear a bona fide certification logo and just says it’s ‘organic’, then there is no difference between natural, eco, organic etc.

When a business is certified organic it is audited each year to make sure it is what it says it is and conforms to a rulebook – or the organic standards – which generally require products to be grown without synthetic chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, hormones.

Animals must be pasture fed, free range and products can’t be tested on animals. Have a look at what organic food is.

Difference between natural and organic

  1. The certified organic industry is regulated, natural isn’t
  2. The consumer watchdog, ACCC, doesn’t regulate the definition of the words natural or eco
  3. ACCC will pull-up a company falsely claiming to be certified organic
  4. There are no nationally agreed standards or guidelines for natural products. The exception to this is the COSMOS Natural standard, which is used for cosmetics and skincare.

The organic industry will permit a limited number of ‘natural’ ingredients from mineral or marine sources. But these still need to adhere to specified requirements.

Beware of greenwashing

To be certified organic, manufactured food or drinks must contain 95 per cent or more certified organic ingredients. Products that have between 70 and 95 per cent can be labeled ‘made with organic ingredients’.

Below this quantity the product can’t get organic certification and as a result manufacturers sometimes call it natural or eco.

Some companies don’t even try to include mostly natural ingredients before labeling a product ‘natural’ – this is called greenwashing. Greenwashing is common in haircare and body care, particularly in supermarkets.

Look for logos and read labels

Take the guesswork out of buying and look for a certified organic logo.

If there isn’t one read the ingredients. If the ingredients listing is a long list of chemicals and numbers rather than botanical names, leave it on the shelf.

Sustainable Shopper buys lots of products marketed as natural or eco, but only if we’re happy with the ingredients on the label.

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