Busting the Buzzwords: Natural
Natural foods, natural beauty products, and now, natural mattresses. That’s right, the more people In search of a healthier lifestyle, the more companies are finding better ways to create natural and all-natural products. In theory, this sounds like a natural (pun intended) correlation, but natural and healthy do not mean the same thing. Actually, far from it.
So What IS Natural?
There is no actual Food and Drug Administration definition for the term “natural” (just as with “eco-friendly”). This allows products to have only one natural ingredient and a handful of other chemicals, but still toute the term “natural” or “eco-friendly.” When it comes to food, the FDA does specify that “natural” food does not contain added colors, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances, but that leaves room for a lot of other things such as trans fats and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
Unfortunately, this means a lot of the population is purchasing products that they assume are healthier when they are actually riddled with sugars and artificial ingredients. These regulations become even looser when you look outside the food industry.
We see this buzzword used a lot in the mattress industry, specifically. Natural mattresses have been permeating the marketplace, convincing consumers that purchasing them will lead to better sleep. In reality, many of these options likely have a lot of the same harmful chemicals as conventional mattresses, they may just source at least one natural material.
How Do I Know When To Trust The Natural Label?
Before you buy a product simply because the label notes it’s natural, green, or eco-friendly—take a little extra time and look at all of the ingredients or materials on the label. “Free of harmful chemicals” is another good distinction to note a safe, healthy product. If you want to go the extra mile, check for organic certifications like the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) on the packaging. Don’t be fooled by terms like “all-natural,” “100 percent natural,” or “green” either.
While you may be looking for a product that you feel good about, you should make sure that that product leads to a healthier and safer lifestyle as well. Be weary of companies that toute words that don’t have definitive standards, and your best bet is to always carefully inspect labels and tags for materials and certifications that you understand.