What’s in a name: Explaining what Certified USDA Organic means to us

“Organic,” “plant-derived,” “green”—these terms are thrown around a lot these days, making it hard to distinguish what’s genuinely green from what’s not. But marketing words aside, ingredients don’t lie.

Using ingredients that are sustainably sourced and organically grown is paramount to PLANT Apothecary ways. It is in our name, after all. 😉

As you may have noticed, all of our products that can be are certified USDA Organic. It is quite a task to gain this certification for any product, but it’s well worth the effort.

Organic certification is more than just a fancy label to us. It’s a way of letting you know that we truly care about the ingredients we use to formulate our products, and, moreover, what you put on your skin. It also indicates our commitment supporting environmentally friendly farming and growth practices. After all, no one really wants to see an industry using harsh pesticides and chemical fertilizers prosper, right?

So whenever possible, all PLANT products are certified USDA Organic, and all of our products are 100% free of petroleum, parabens, PABA, sodium lauryl sulfate, silicones and other synthetic nasties.

A few of our products, however, can’t be certified USDA Organic for technical reasons. For example, our MATCHA Antioxidant Face Mask is made of just three ingredients: organic, fair-trade matcha tea, organic essential oil of chamomile, and white clay. It’s the clay that keeps the mask from being certified, because a certified organic product must be made of at least 70% organic ingredients, and organic certification is specifically a reference to how an ingredient is grown. But clay is mined, not grown—so it can’t be organic, or not.

Likewise, our body washes are made with organic ingredients, but are not labelled USDA Organic because of the chemistry of soapmaking. To make soap, a considerable amount of an inorganic compound like sodium hydroxide is used at the beginning, which combines completely with the oils to make them into soap—and is no longer present in the final product. Soap cannot be made without this process, and while no lye is present at the end, the USDA includes it anyway when calculating whether the organic ingredients make up at least 95% of the formula. And sodium hydroxide isn’t a plant, so it can’t be organic, and—well, you know the drill.

So as Sir Francis Bacon once said, “knowledge is power”—and for or us, that statement remains very true. It’s our hope to keep you informed on what’s in your favorite PLANT products and how we operate, every step of the way.


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