When I first started this natural journey, I found the whole world of natural products really overwhelming. How do I know what's actually natural and plant-based? How do I know the ingredients are clean when many things are not regulated and the USA allows MANY more ingredients than Europe does? (Europe bans many ingredients that the USA allows in products.) How do I know that the companies packaging and advertising are telling the truth when they can have "trade secrets" and not share their entire ingredient list (possibly hiding not-so-good ingredients)? What about the expense -- is it really more expensive to go plant-based and non-toxic?
It seemed really overwhelming to me especially since I am sensitive to practically everything and didn't really want to trial and error so many products before finding things that I wasn't sensitive to. It seemed like a huge undertaking... and I just wanted simple.
With that in mind, here are 10 ways I filtered companies and their products to determine where to start.
1) Where does the plant material for their products come from? Can I visit where the plants are grown?
2) What's the process for turning the plant material into products? Do they use synthetic solvents to make the price go down by getting more out of plants than they should (and lowering the quality in the process)? Or do they do it the best way, without any added ingredients?
3) How transparent is the company with their process?
4) Are products available based on growing seasons and plant availability? No one wants items going out of stock, of course, but if a plant is limited in quantity, seeing something go out of stock occasionally is actually a GOOD sign that the company isn't doing anything to stretch plants further to meet supply demands.
5) Are the prices for different items all the same, or are they based on actual plant availability? Prices SHOULD vary based on rarity and availability of plants and the complexity of processing said plants.
6) Does the company put down others in any of their advertising (via comparison), or do they just focus on their own positive impact in the world?
7) Does the company make concentrated products that I can dilute (to save money on packaging and shipping too)? If they have supplements, how bio-available are they?
8) What do testimonials say about the efficacy of the products?
9) Do the plant materials smell "nice" or do they smell earthy and as the plant would? They should smell "earthy" and not be stripped of constituents just to please a customer.
10) Do plants smell different in different batches (say two different times you buy)? Or does it always smell EXACTLY the same? Different batches should smell a bit different, if the company is using pure plant material and processing it in the best possible way.
Well, there you have it. I've done extensive research and always label read my products (be it for cleaning, personal care, soaps, make-up, supplements, etc), and I've landed on one company that passes all of these question tests with flying colors. Some other companies pass some, but not all.
I'm so grateful that my family can trust that the products we use every single day (like bug repellent this time of year!) are pure, high quality non-toxic, and plant-based.
What requirements do you have of the companies you purchase from?