Sustainable shopping is the future. It is significant for us to flex our financial muscles to show the need for products that don’t harm the environment. But as much as we want to be conscious consumers, it is becoming harder to do this.
The green company that we are keen on supporting may, unbeknownst to us, be owned by a top polluting corporation. It isn’t fair if one really thinks about it and even leans onto greenwashing. Especially if the big corporation – that buys out your favorite natural brand – operates and runs on processes that do not align with your values.
The Zero Waste Lifestyle System has created this comprehensive guide on Green Company Acquisitions, so you can shop more wisely and steer clear of potential greenwashing.
What is a green company?
Nowadays, we are concerned about the situation and our environment’s status, which has led to various actions in response to the viral issue. Some businesses acted to make their business sustainable. Green companies are those who serve in socially and environmentally responsible ways. These companies challenge themselves to provide products that will benefit both society and also the environment. The green company works towards the betterment of the world through promoting community health and development.
These companies also care for their workers; they follow labor laws and even work with local communities to keep their operations sustainable. Green companies value their workers, and they are very generous to them since they are also the backbone of the entire business. Moreover, they also protect their customers by using safe ingredients and elements to produce products.
Thus, a green company cares about and protects workers and customers and improves the community. Its leaders make sure that the company follows the rules, regulations, and facilities to avoid polluting the environment. Plus, since a green company usually starts operating locally, it also offers work and many economic benefits to the people who live in those places.
Trend of green company acquisitions
Most businesses, particularly giant multinational corporations, are not sustainable. They contribute a lot to global waste pollution, carbon emissions, and other environmental issues. This is because most businesses focus mainly just on money without considering the environment and the consumers’ well-being.
But many giant corporations have acquired green companies to change and improve their businesses, to protect the people and the environment. Some bought those that provide healthy and safe products that both people and the environment can benefit from.
The trend of green company acquisitions is spreading from the food, personal care to home care industries that are safe and healthy to the consumers and safe and beneficial to the environment. Since sustainable products are popularly used by people and don’t negatively affect the environment, many more companies put their stake in a green company in their respective niches.
These corporations purchase green businesses for the sustainability and development of the community. And they also expand their market scope when they buy green companies. Some giant corporations that have done this are Unilever, SC Johnson, and L’Oreal. They are motivated to build the distribution of the green company they bought in the mainstream, mass-market channels.
Some corporations implement green policies upon acquiring green companies because they observed that green companies offer sustainable services and products that will have a successful engagement. Most companies that buy green companies are big and successful, just like Unilever, which already has different green companies such as Seven Generation, Ben & Jerry’s, and REN.
However, before a green company accepts the offer of those companies, there are some factors that they also need to consider.
- Do the companies that will acquire them want to offer green products?
- Are they willing to manufacture products that will not harm the environment?
Worryingly, there are cases wherein big corporations do not initially provide green products before acquiring a small green company. Some who do acquire a green company do not also shift to sustainable processes despite the mentioned acquisition. So it doesn’t mean that if big companies acquire green companies, they are already considered producing healthy and safe products. These companies just purchased their natural products but not the whole process on how to make these healthy and safe products.
Granted, all green companies are small businesses, making buyouts and acquisitions a big opportunity for the founders.
Most consumers prefer buying from a green company due to growing awareness of environmental issues. Sixty-three percent of consumers increased their purchase of green products. Hence, this ethical dilemma with green brands under polluting multinational companies will be prevalent at this point.
Green Brands under Polluting Multinational Companies
In hindsight, it is, in fact, possible that green brands will be running under polluting multinational companies. This presents an ethical dilemma to both green brands and consumers because, for one, the small businesses would be facing problems since expanding their markets would also cost them their purpose of providing green products. In another case, consumers who prefer such brands not only because of their quality but for their purpose will have second thoughts in supporting them.
Unilever is already a behemoth in the home goods and personal care market. And its products are packaged in plastics that are often found in beach cleanups, landfills, or polluting the waterways. So it is very problematic when they acquired green brands.
Eluxe Magazine journalist, Diane Small, wrote in 2016 that Unilever supports GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) crops. GMOs can bring disadvantages to the environment and human health. Because of this, Seventh Generation, now run by Unilever, no longer has credible “natural” labels for their products.
- Seventh Generation – natural home care products
- REN – natural skincare
- Honest Company
- Ben and Jerry’s – ice-cream
- Mrs Meyers
- Babyganics – natural home care and personal care brand
- Honest Tea
- Energy Brands
When The Body Shop, a cruelty-free beauty brand, was bought by L’Oreal, this caused an uproar since L’Oreal tests its products on animals. This poses a problem for vegan consumers.
- The Body Shop
- S. Pellegrino
- Poland Spring
Another ironically tragic acquisition is Clorox buying out Burt’s Bees, the maker of natural creams and lipsticks. Clorox produces PineSol and Clorox Bleach, which are some of the most toxic home cleaners.
Colgate & Palmolive
- Toms of Maine
- Cascadian Farms
- Annie’s, Inc
- Muir Glen
- Food Should Taste Good
- Green n Black
- Boca Foods
- Naked Juice
- Dagoba Organic Chocolate
- Blake’s All Natural Foods
Effects of Green Company Acquisitions
Since green company acquisition is making noise nowadays, more and more companies are moving to acquire green companies under their banner. Green company acquisitions help different businesses provide different products that are healthy and safe for both humans and the environment.
Usually, Green companies are small companies, and big companies acquire them because they believe that with these small companies, their business will improve in terms of sustainability. Since a green company will consider different ways and factors that will avoid polluting the environment, such as air, land, and water through producing or manufacturing products, this will help the community develop. The environment as well will be protected.
Almost all green companies are acquired by big, successful, and multinational companies that produced harmful products. The acquisition will have significant effects on the products of the green company since those big companies cannot maintain some ingredients. Unilever acquired green these businesses that produce products that are healthy and safe. However, they are also supporting GMO crops, which are increasingly proven to be bad not only for human health but also for the health of the planet.
With this, it is clear that big companies like Unilever do not become sustainable. They just purchased the products of a green company. The ingredients of the green companies’ products will not be a hundred percent natural when the big companies already purchase them.
Pros and Cons of Green Company Acquisitions
While green company acquisitions are great business-wise for the original founders of the green company and new corporate owners, there are several things to consider in this:
- A green company expands their market and the volume of their productions
- They will be able to offer more jobs to those who are unemployed.
- The corporation that acquired the green company will be able to provide better, eco-friendly product lines.
- Green products will rapidly spread throughout the world.
- Green companies can not always ensure that their products will remain healthy and safe products under the ownership of polluting multinational companies. Their packaging may even change to plastics.
- Major corporations – who buy green brands – are deeply connected to the petroleum and GMO industries, two of the worst industries in environmental impact.
- Vegans will refuse to use products that are tested on animals. Cruelty-free brands like The Body Shop, owned by multinational corporations, get boycotted because of their animal testing practices.
Should you buy from a Green Company Acquired by Multinational Companies that contribute to pollution?
Green companies have clear and transparent goals and ways to convert and make products safe, natural, and socially responsible. They ensure that the products we will be purchasing are non-toxic because they are made from natural raw materials. When it comes to packaging and manufacturing processes, such companies also do their mission of providing better and environmentally-friendly alternatives.
But such companies are usually small companies, and multinational corporations buy them to expand their markets through having green companies. With this, it helps the small companies to market their products to a larger size of customers in different parts of the world. However, when it comes to green company acquisition, it is also a fact that we cannot be sure that the ingredients or the product itself are still healthy and safe.
These companies who acquire green companies are usually polluting multinational corporations. This means green company products may be affected by these chemical companies in terms of their packaging, manufacturing, and the ingredients they will use. For instance, even if the product they offer is safe and healthy to the consumers, it causes pollution to the environment since its packaging is made of plastics.
Additionally, other ingredients and how they manufactured the products may also be affected since multinational corporations have streamlined ways to make products that can destroy the environment.
So when you want to shop sustainably, choose to support a small, green company. Better yet, shop local. Do this even if it is more expensive since the ingredients are all-natural. Making these products are safe, and it takes time, but you can make sure that it is healthier and safer for the users. It is safe for the environment. Most importantly, you support the dream and advocacy of an environmentalist rather than feed the pockets of polluters.