This whole organics thing is a bugbear of many bloggers – and beauty writers – because the area is so woolly. Global brand H&M have announced the arrival of what they call ‘a skin care range with organic ingredients’. Well, uhh, that’s not the same thing at all as an ‘organic’ brand. I really struggle to see the point of chucking in a few organic ingredients in order to jump on the organic bandwagon. What H&M are hoping of course, is that we’ll see the word ‘organic’ and immediately think of the skincare range as a wholesome, good-for-you product at a very reasonable price. What I see are the words ‘organic ingredients’ and that is a whole other thing entirely. On the H&M website, their announcement is highlighted in red ‘Organic Ingredients’. But what they don’t say really is how organic this makes the products. There are no statistics telling us something is say, 80% organic or 75% organic. I don’t think you can be a little bit organic. Here’s a portion of what the webite says:
‘Nature gives us the best ingredients, which is why it makes so much sense to work with organic and natural ingredients in this new range of everyday essentials from H&M. Shower gel contains the juice of organic apples, while organic apple juice and apricot seeds are key ingredients in the body scrub. Organic apple juice and oils from sunflower seeds make up an essential part of the body lotion, while the hand cream has organic apple juice and oils from organic almond seeds. The lip-balm has the key organic ingredients of jojoba and beeswax, and all of the products are scented with natural perfumes derived from essential oils, sold in recyclable packaging. All the products are available at H&M’s affordable prices, while also meeting the requirements of Ecocert. Ecocert is Europe’s biggest certification body for organic and natural cosmetics.
‘The introduction of skincare products with certified organic ingredients comes at a time when sustainability is even more central to H&M’s work, with a commitment to increase the use of organic cotton by 50% each year until 2013, while projects like H&M’s Garden Collection for Spring 2010 show how organic and sustainable materials can take their place at the very heart of fashion.’
And yet, this is the same company that was flagged up in the Guardian (via The New York Times) in January for shredding unsold clothes instead of donating to the homeless or those in need (and somewhat shockingly, leaving bags of slashed clothing only feet away from a sleeping homeless person). They’ve since, for the record, apologised wholeheartedly. Although H&M have had an ethical clothing policy since 2007, and score reasonably highly in ethical rankings I’m feeling it isn’t all that ethical to be putting beauty products on the shelves that, if you are truly organically minded, tick very few boxes. Citing a ‘strong demand from consumers for organics’ as the reason for the range, and with a predominantly young consumer base, an entry level price point for their products is going to make it an attractive prospect for eco-youth thinking they’re making an ethical and more healthy choice. And yet, a few organic ingredients does not make an organic product. As far as it ‘meeting the requirements of Eco Cert’, it would be helpful to know what those requirements are.
It would be so much better if the website announcement didn’t feel quite so vague – I feel what it doesn’t say speaks louder, and while H&M might be trying to work more eco-consciously and ethically, fluffing around with a few natural or organic ingredients, albeit in recyclable packaging, doesn’t send a loud enough message to me. I’ve also done a quick scout of Google to see if anyone else is asking questions about this range, and it seems that nobody really is. Come on H&M, let’s have some proper stats and real clarity on exactly how organic the skin care range is.