What Does Natural Mean?
How do you define ‘natural’?
‘Natural’ is defined as “existing in nature and not made or caused by people” by the reliable Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Seems easy enough, right? Well, existing in nature is not mutually inclusive with being safe for humans or good for the planet. For example, rattlesnake poison and the botulism toxin, along with thousands of types of bacteria that exist in nature can be very harmful to people and can be invasive to natural habitats, ecosystems, and various planetary systems.
Is it regulated? Nope, and oftentimes when words aren’t regulated, they’re not credible.
Does Finch use it? Nay.
Want a memory trick? Go au naturale when it comes to “natural” labels.
Can a product be natural?
If we’re defining natural as not made or caused be people, then no. You likely won’t just stumble across a bottle of laundry detergent in the wild. That said, individual ingredients or materials might be natural, but that does not mean they’re synonymous with being more “sustainable”.
Does finch use the terms ‘natural’?
Absolutely not. The term “natural”, when used in the context of products, is almost always misleading. For your convenience, and our peace of mind, it’s easier to name the exact characteristics and their desired outcomes. Some products have ingredients that are free from artificial ingredients (like colors and preservatives) or are certified by a reputable source, which can be more helpful in making a product selection because those characteristics could be specific and regulated. If we’re trying to talk about how a product is not harmful to human health or is minimally processed, we’ll say that instead.
What should you do if a product says it’s ‘natural’?
It’s no surprise that companies slap “natural” across their labeling and packaging. Sales of personal care products that don’t contain artificial fragrances and have a “natural” claim have increased 16% in the last year. If you’re in the hunt for products that are “natural”, ask what you’re really looking for. Are you interested in purchasing a product that is minimally processed or includes the least amount of artificial ingredients possible?
At Finch, we try to balance product reliability and functionality, with how it impacts planetary and human health. This is a cost-benefit analysis and takes time — when in doubt, check the carfax. Don’t be duped by natural labeling without investigating just what exactly is so natural about it.