The Difference between Natural, Organic and Certified Organic?
‘Natural’ ingredients are those that are typically derived from plant matter, animal matter, or minerals.
While natural products are already much safer than mainstream products, it is important to know that using the term ‘natural’ in product marketing is not regulated under Australian law. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) can act against misleading claims on cosmetic labels, however, there is a grey area when it comes to using words like ‘natural’.
Ultimately, businesses don’t have to follow any form of standard to claim that their products are natural. If ingredients appear to be derived, grown and processed in an ecological way, business can, and often will, use the term ‘natural’ in their product marketing.
It is also important to remember that just because an ingredient is natural, does not mean it is good for you or the environment. Carrageenan and Palm Oil are both natural ingredients that are heavily debated. There are also naturally occurring chemicals often found in cosmetic products that still allow them to be marketed as natural or pure.
Similarly, the term ‘organic’ isn’t regulated under any Australian standard, either. Usually, the term ‘organic’ refers to ingredients that are grown without the use of artificial pesticides or any synthetic materials, and are free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Businesses often use the term ‘organic’ instead of ‘natural’ to emphasise that their ingredients may be subject to more thorough ethical standards and inspection. Brands who choose to market their products using buzzwords such as ‘organic’, ‘natural’, ‘pure’, or ‘eco’ have to be very careful that they are not promoting greenwashing or lying about their positive environmental impact.
It is important not to be too critical of businesses who use these terms, however, as some smaller brands are genuinely organic and natural but have not received certification yet.
At the end of the day, your safest bet is to read the ingredients and judge the product for yourself.
If you want to be free from any concern, searching for certified organic products is the absolute safest option. ‘Certified organic’ means that a business has applied to and passed a certification process by an industry organisation.
Australia’s most recognised certified organic accreditor is Australian Certified Organic (ACO). Chances are, you’ve probably seen their logo on many products in your home already!
Having the Australian Certified Organic Bud Logo means that a product complies with national production standards and is genuinely free from synthetic pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics.
Products with over 95% certified organic ingredients can have the Bud Logo displayed on the front of the packaging, while products with less than 95% certified organic ingredients can still use the logo, just not on the front.
Some of our favourite certified organic products
These brands (along with many others!) are proof that you don’t have to compromise on quality or effectiveness to be safe, healthy, and to benefit the environment!