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Friday Tidbit: Parent Companies

4 November 2011

Have you switched to using “green” or “eco-friendly” products?  It’s an easy way to feel like you are making a good choice for the environment.

But who actually owns those brands?  Earlier this year, The Guardian in UK published a quiz about ethical brands and their parent companies.  Can you pass?  Granted, some of those brands are unknown to us Americans, but I think there are a few you might recognize.

So what about here in the U.S.?  You probably know of Burt’s Bees.  But did you know it was purchased by the Clorox Company?  You can see a complete list of their products, as well.

The Chic Ecologist reviewed a number of brands, providing a great graphic.  For example, Odwalla and Honest Tea are owned by Coca-Cola.

From Chic Ecologist

On the flip side, there are product lines that are either privately owned and/or owned by eco-friendly parent companies.

Take Seventh Generation, owned by parent company Ecologic Brands.  Years ago, it went public without success (shares never rose above $5) and ended up buying it’s stock back to remain private.  (Funny side note, Burt’s Bees CEO actually left to come to Seventh Generation.)

Seventh Generation also launched some redesigned bottles earlier this year, made of mostly recycled paper.

You also might recognize Mrs. Meyer’s.  It’s a fairly well-known cleaning line.  It’s parent company, Caldrea, focuses on environmentally products.  That seems like a good match.

What other brands do you know of that are owned by a questionable parent company?  Have you changed any of your purchases because of it?

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7 Comments
  1. 4 November 2011 12:50 pm

    I’ve never thought of brands before like that! Makes me wonder about “green” things…

  2. 4 November 2011 2:51 pm

    WOW! it seems that as much as I would like to be “green” and aware, it would take a lot of constant research to do it entirely correctly! All this trickery out there makes me a bit nutty! 🙂

    • 4 November 2011 3:00 pm

      It is more than a little overwhelming. I think that’s the attraction to me of figuring out how to make so much yourself. Then you have to rely on and trust fewer companies.

  3. 6 November 2011 5:51 pm

    Just wondering, does the fact that a product is owned by a big scary corporation make it less green? Can Burt’s Bees still be eco-friendly after a buyout?

    I’m not sure… there seems like there is a lot of sketchy grey area there.

    • 6 November 2011 7:16 pm

      You make a good point. It’s very possible that Burt’s Bee would continue to operate as it had, maintaining an eco-friendly. However, as a consumer, I would no longer trust that my money is going to the same places. If the bottom line belongs to a company with questionable practices or other unfriendly products, I don’t want to associate those by association. And I would question whether the company could continue the same practices without interference. Will the bottom line suddenly become the only measuring stick for success? I’m not sure either. I think knowing the parent company is a good baseline for critical consumers, but shouldn’t be the definitive factor in whether a company is trustworthy.

      • 8 November 2011 2:59 pm

        I agree with Elizabeth on this fo sho. It’s similar to media conglomeration. When huge mass-media corporations buy up smaller media streams, they become less diverse and more homogeonized to fulfill the biggest priority of profit. Values such as diversity, programming featuring different points of view, etc, all get swallowed up by getting those dollars. Similarly, it would be logical to think that a smaller, green companies values would eventually fall by the way side of the bigger corporate behemoth.

  4. 7 November 2011 2:33 am

    It’s a case of corporate boards chasing dollars where they see the trend going. By floating or snapping up outfits like these or how they choose to stay in the game because as an 800 pound gorilla they simply can’t reallign they’re systems overnite to ‘go green’.

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