*Disclosure: Gutride Safier has retained The Soft Landing to help inform our readers about this issue and direct you to more information. The opinions provided are our own.
As avid participants of the healthy living movement, we're passionate about safer products and the manufacturers that provide them. We've carefully researched thousands of products for readers who depend on us for trustworthy recommendations — our highest priority is using a decade of experience to point to the safest products with an emphasis on reliable brands, so when our trust is breached by faulty or intentionally misleading information, it has to be addressed.
That's the case with two brands of baby wipes claiming to be “earth-friendly” that we've used ourselves, believing that we made an environmentally conscious choice.
Questionable Ingredients and Marketing Lingo in Popular Eco Baby Wipes
If you've been following us for long, you know that greenwashing really makes our blood boil. It's one thing to make a product with questionable ingredients, but it's a whole other thing to make questionable claims for marketing purposes! To help prevent this, the FTC Green Guides were developed to ensure that marketing claims about environmental attributes of products are truthful and non-deceptive, and as such, companies are to follow this set of guidelines to avoid trouble. Greenwashing occurs when product claims are carefully qualified so they do technically follow these guidelines, but the product doesn't actually meet consumer expectations.
Most recently, our attention was drawn to developments centering around two brands of wipes using questionable ingredients and advertisements. The fundamental issue we’re seeing is that polyester and rayon are being advertised and sold as earth-friendly or biodegradable. And therein lies the problem: neither polyester nor rayon are earth-friendly or biodegradable in the most widely understood meaning of the words.
Polyester is a petroleum-based synthetic, while rayon is a cellulose-derived semi-synthetic. Both fabrics are normally manufactured with one or more hazardous chemicals that can include various detergents, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and chemical fabric softeners that potentially allow for chemical migration or harm to the environment.
Barnhardt Cotton offers a helpful explanation of why regenerated fibers aren't natural (see their graphic below for the typical production process):
Rayon’s cellulose is produced from trees, which require a much longer time (years) to grow before they are big enough for harvesting. The trees are chemically processed to remove everything (bark, lignin, etc.), and then the remaining cellulose is regenerated into man-made fibers.
Have Your “Earth-friendly” Baby Wipes Been Greenwashed?
The brands in question, Earth's Best and The Honest Co, are engaged in advertising trickery by using phrases such as bleach-free, sustainably-sourced, plant-based, earth-friendly or biodegradable. Wording like this implies the product is natural and eco-friendly, and leads people to believe they can simply throw used wipes in the trash or curb-pickup recycling bin without care. But that just isn't the case.
Independent lab testing revealed that the foundational substrate material of Earth’s Best baby wipes is composed of 62.8% polyester and .7% rayon, and The Honest Co baby wipes substrate is 100% rayon.
Essentially, these wipes equate to throw-away plastic, and while they may biodegrade in the perfect setting (think municipal or industrial recycling facilities specifically built to handle these types of materials), they'll most likely end up in the trash heap, especially when folks don't have readily available access to appropriate recycling resources.
What to Do if You've Purchased These Baby Wipes
The law firm of Gutride Safier is currently investigating Earth's Best and The Honest Co over allegations of false claims that their pre-moistened wipes are earth-friendly or biodegradable when they’re actually neither, and they're certainly not natural as the wording implies. It's already difficult to find trustworthy manufacturers and safe, truly eco-friendly products, so we feel these misleading selling techniques must be addressed appropriately.
If you purchased baby wipes from The Honest Co or Earth’s Best under the guise of earth-friendly or biodegradable claims, you might qualify to participate in a class action lawsuit happening now. You can visit the law firm's website to fill out a no-obligation form at www.gutridesafier.com/investigations/greenwipes/2.
Information about Gutride Safier
For more than a decade, Gutride Safier LLP has been a national leader in advancing the rights of individuals against powerful companies and government. The firm has successfully litigated class actions to achieve nationwide settlements involving dozens of products and industries and are currently litigating many others. Hundreds of millions of dollars in settlement benefits have been made available to consumers and small businesses in cases alleging consumer fraud, false advertising, and racketeering. Gutride Safier’s work can be viewed in more detail at www.gutridesafier.com/our-work/consumers.
Photo Source: Infographic by Barnhardt Cotton