Asian Cosmetic Sales Boom, But Greenwashing an Issue

With a booming market in Asia for cosmetics comes concerns of greenwashing As purchasing power rises in Asia, the sale of cosmetics has continued to increase. However, the growth has come with a backlash, as some are claiming that Asian cosmetics are engaging in “greenwashing” of their products.

According to industry watchdog group Organic Monitor, many Western brands that specialize in natural and organic cosmetics have withdrawn from the market in China, complaining about animal testing methods they claim are used in China.

But in other markets in Asia, the natural cosmetics business is booming. Overall, the natural cosmetics market in Asia is growing by 15 percent, according to Organic Monitor.

Asian cosmetic boom

Hong Kong now has, possibly, the highest number of green cosmetic retailers on the globe, according to Organic Monitor. Brands with stores in Hong Kong include: Apivita, Jasmin Skincare, Aveda, Neal’s Yard Remedies, Jurlique, Melvita and Comvita.

Meanwhile, Japan remains a world center for cosmetics, or, as the Wall Street Journal reported, a “breeding ground” for beauty trends. South Korea has also become a big market in cosmetics. Overall, Asia is expected to account for almost half of the cosmetic sales around the world in 2015.

Most countries in the region are reporting double-digit percentage growth in the number of cosmetic sales, according to Organic Monitor.

However, environmental issues are a big concern in the rapidly growing Asian market.

Greenwashing cosmetic products

A report on stated that Organic Monitor believes the Asian market is “rife” with cosmetic brands making false claims about being natural or organic products. Some, the report stated, have placed fake logos and symbols on cosmetic products to promote them as being organic or natural products.

Such false marketing has led to confusion among consumers about which companies are truly offering “green” products.

The site also reported, however, that the market for natural cosmetic products is growing, particularly in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. And Organic Monitor reports on its site that China remains a huge market despite the “greenwashing” issue.

Still, the country is being hurt by its lack of green products, according to the watchdog group, which posted this on its site: “Growing consumer awareness of health & wellness issues is boosting demand for organic and natural products. Few Chinese companies however are producing natural and organic cosmetics because of formulation and ingredient issues.”

The issue will certainly be taken up at the upcoming sustainable cosmetic summits. One will be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in September while another is Paris in October.


Matthew Speer, from iFame Media provided this article on behalf of Imagine Sports, the leading baseball simulation game on the market today. You can check them out at

Infographic: Greenwashed!

This greenwashing infographic displays the sad truth that many so-called green products are, at best, not as green as their makers claim, or not at all green or sustainably produced. As well as the “six sins of greenwashing +1″ we also learn about four industries of which to be particularly cautious and some green and environmental standards to look for when making purchasing decisions.

One caveat – be cautious of SFI mentioned below – the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. We’ll have a more detailed look at SFI coming soon, but there are a number of companies including Office Depot, Southwest Airlines, AT&T, Allstate and several others that consider SFI as less than a true green standard. Better to look the work done by the sustainable forestry ethics advocacy group ForestryEthics.


Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

Bottled Water: the Hidden Costs

Most people these days understand that buying bottled water is wasteful and bad for the environment – especially for single-use consumption (we think folks should store large bottles of water on hand for use in emergencies).

This installment from a new “Hidden Costs” video series from takes a look at the health, economic, and environmental characteristic of bottled water.

Featured image credit: ToddMorris, courtesy flickr

Do Corporate Greenwashing Scandals have a Shelf-Life?

Corporate Greenwash: Do we forget too soon all the BS?The 2012 London Olympics, hosted in a stadium that IOC asserts is “as sustainable as it is stunning,” have brought unprecedented attention not just to the athletes competing for medals, but also to the corporate sponsors competing for air time. A number of tarnished reputations plague the corporate contestants. BP Global, Dow Chemical, and Rio Tinto top the list of what consumers may consider environmentally unfriendly Olympic sponsors. Thanks to a lively coalition of environmental activists, for a short while it was possible to vote on which of the three top contenders should win the “Greenwash Gold 2012” award. Rio Tinto brought home the gold.

But how long will the collective memory of Greenwash Gold 2012 last? If the shared memory of environmental abuse itself is any indicator, “not that long” may be the best answer. The iconic image of the oil-slicked pelican (or sea turtle, or tern, or plover) no longer airs during prime time, but BP’s post-spill “public service” ads, featuring standard greenwashing fodder, mostly certainly do.

Grandfatherly fishermen stroll along pristine beaches aside smiling BP executives night and day, apparently. BP’s website is quite literally awash with green, one of its less subtle marketing maneuvers. But it’s been more than two years since everyone from President Obama to the office gossip declared the Deepwater Horizon explosion “the worst environmental disaster in American history.”

The green font on BP’s website waxes sentimental about the company’s “sustainability” practices, including desire “to be a safety leader … a world-class operator, a good corporate citizen and a great employer.” All this to “earn back trust and grow value.” After all, they’re one and the same; corporations that the public trusts do indeed grow their own value. If environmental activists want to stop them, then they have to keep greenwashing scandals from flying off the shelves and into the hands of, well, consumers.

Therein, of course, lies the rub: greenwashing works precisely because it equates sustainability with consumption. And there’s nothing Americans like to do more than consume. Most environmental activists have neither the income nor the media connections necessary to fight greenwashers on their own turf (i.e., your TV screen), which means that the outcome of this particular battle will likely be decided by the prize itself: consumers. All they have to do is start complaining.

The good news is that lots of them already are. In California, two recent lawsuits against water bottlers, Fiji Water and Aquamantra, accused of greenwashing indicate a groundswell of consumer and political discontent with how easy it is becoming to be green.

If Kermit only knew.

But class-action lawsuits and suits brought by attorneys-general are viable only because American consumers have invested the Federal Trade Commission with the power to protect them from fraud and deception. That protection indeed extends to the prosecution of greenwashing.

However, the public can expect the FTC to serve its dedicated function for only as long as the citizenry insists upon it. It’s not hard to submit a complaint about greenwashing; in fact, it’s as easy as filling out a form online – what calls a “Complaint Assistant.” The same is true with greenwashing scandals. If media literacy and environmentally responsible consumption continue to thrive, greenwashing scandals can’t die down. Consumers can keep them alive by purchasing genuinely green products and supporting media entities that educate them about greenwashing.

On the one hand, the future looks promising: “greenwashing,” as a word, is becoming common parlance. Trends in consumer behavior indicate sincere, if sometimes misguided, concern with environmental stewardship, and every year the U.S. celebrates Earth Day with a bit more fervor. On the other hand, Earth Day’s 40th anniversary, which should have been cause to celebrate decades of progress in environmental stewardship, coincided with the Deepwater Horizon explosion. A month later, BP stock prices took a similar plunge; one share in the company lost roughly half its value from January to June that year. But BP Global has rebounded. Two years after the initial explosion, BP’s stock value closed at around $40 a share.

Investors are clearly willing to let BP “earn back” at least some of the “trust” the corporation solicits on its website. It’s up to the public to remember why those words appear in a wash of bright green in the first place.
Matthew Speer is the founder of, a site dedicated to providing real solutions for real people – helping everyone embrace a sustainable living.

Message of The Lorax Co-Opted by Mazda to Push SUV: Pure Greenwash

Lorax Greenwashing by Mazda

Are Mazda and Universal Pictures true to the original message of The Lorax?

What is Mazda thinking? Dr. Suess’ The Lorax was created to introduce children to the environmental issues of the early 1970’s. The Disneyfied version from the soon-be-released film now hawks the Mazda CX-5, a compact SUV worthy of a Certified Truffula Tree Seal of Approval, mostly, we are told, (about “one billion times”) because of Mazda SkyActiv Technology.

There’s information on Mazda’s website about SkyActiv technology, with a slick intro film describing it as “innovating the emotion of motion.”

Whatever SkyActiv technology really is, it seems particularly cynical to usurp the message of the Lorax to an unsuspecting and uncritical audience made numb by a barrage of meaningless messages designed as pure greenwash. For the Lorax to grumpily (but lovably) endorse the CX-5 with the “Certified Truffula Tree Seal of Approval” is a reason to buy a Toyota Prius and feel sad for Dr. Suess.

Mazda and Universal Pictures, you oughta be ashamed of yourselves.