Who Owns What? The Good, the Bad and the Ugly…

These days it’s almost impossible to know all of the brands that are encompassed by a single company!  We have such a variety and so many different brands to choose from at our stores, but the reality is that there are actually only a few very large corporations that own it all.  In my last post I listed some of the major conventional companies and their brands, which were actually pretty surprising to me at first, but imagine my shock when I found out that companies such as Burt’s Bees and Tom’s of Maine are owned by “the big guys” (aka Clorox and Colgate).  This isn’t a phenomena limited to natural cosmetic/personal care companies, it’s also the case when it comes to organic food companies as well (yes your favorite Odwalla juice drink is in fact owned by the mega giant Cocoa Cola).  Here are some great articles to check out for more titillating details and shockers:

http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_17306.cfm

http://awesome.good.is/features/009/009buyingorganic.html

So after you recuperate from the shock, what do you think?  Are they sell outs that went against everything they stood for?  Or could it possibly, just maybe, be a good thing?

Many people are utterly outraged when they find out that they’ve actually been giving their hard earned money to a big corporation because they were under the impression that they were making the “right choice” and buying products that encompassed their own values (ie no animal testing, green manufacturing, non toxic/safe ingredients, etc.).  They simply feel deceived.  Burt’s Bees is a cruelty free company, yet they are owned by Clorox who participates in animal testing…  It’s blatantly contradictory right?

There are always two sides to an argument though and one should consider both.  Many people see the large company’s acquisitions as a positive sign.  Organic food and natural care products have become such big business, this is due to the fact that consumers are demanding healthier options (so that’s a good thing right?).  The public wants pesticide free fruit and non toxic lip balm!  So the big corporations are listening and delivering.  Some people argue that maybe these small natural companies can help re-shape the big guys for the better, maybe they’ll see that you don’t have to use animal testing or potentially toxic ingredients to be a successful and profitable company.  Perhaps they’ll see that people aren’t fooled by the scientific gimmicks they put on products (ie scientifically proven to reduce wrinkle by 25% in just 7 days) and they like when their lip balm contains ingredients that they can pronounce and understand.

When big companies own natural brands they also become widely available–Burt’s Bees is sold everywhere from Target to Walgreens to Border’s!  If you haven’t at least seen a Burt’s Bees lip balm for sale somewhere I would be truley astounded!   So why is this a good thing you may ask.  Well, now that natural and organic brands are available in mass virtually everyone has access to them.  In the past many people may have been interested in such brands but just were not able to obtain them, now they can pick natural stuff up at their local drugstore or grocery store.  Also, people who maybe were not apt to buy a natural brand before may do so now simply because it’s there on the shelf when they are looking for a new lip balm or what have you.

The jury’s still out on what I think, plus I’m not writing this to convince you either way.  There’s good and there’s bad to it all.  It seems like it’s near impossible for any company to find and maintain that happy medium, it a very fine line and there are numerous argument s either way.  Does it all come down to money and greed or is about a true and sincere interest in healthy product alternatives?

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