Native is a cosmetic brand that markets itself as being made of high quality ingredients that are good for you and for the environment. Native has deodorants, sunscreens, shampoos and more. They emphasize using ingredients that are safe and easy to understand. They are one of the leading natural deodorant brands that are not anti-perspirants and are aluminum free. This product in particular is a new line of deodorant that is exactly the same formula. The only thing that has changed in the packaging that is now completely free of plastic and made of paper. This is a positive as microplastic and the sourcing of plastic is one of the leading causes in ocean pollution and microplastics do not decompose easily. While researching this product, I was impressed by the transparency surrounding the ingredients in the product, but was slightly disappointed with the information regarding how and where they source these ingredients and how the product is manufactured. Overall, I am impressed by Native’s initiative to make the switch to plastic free packaging and the quality of the deodorant itself is commendable.
The deodorant itself labels itself as being Paraben, aluminum and sulfate free. They assure the consumers that they only use safe ingredients to “create products we’d use on ourselves.” This is a positive aspect of the brand. Parabens are chemicals that are used as preservatives in many cosmetic brands and according to the Environmental Working Group(EWG), parabens “can disrupt hormones in the body and harm fertility and reproductive organs, affect birth outcomes, and increase the risk of cancer.” All of the deodorants are also free of Aluminum. Aluminum is often used in many antiperspirants and is dangerous for people with limited kidney function that cannot properly filter out the aluminum that may build up in your body and according to Dr. Chan ay Penn Family Medicine, “ too much aluminum in your body can cause bone diseases or dementia.” They also claim to be vegan and cruelty free which is promising. This particular product is also plastic free in the individual packaging and the shipping materials. The Native website also provides very clear diagram with the ingredients and descriptions of each. As a consumer, this is refreshing to not have to search endlessly to determine what exactly is in the product. Some of these ingredients include: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Magnesium Hydroxide, Ozokerite, Baking Soda, etc. Native then gives a short description that also includes other names that the ingredient is called which shows how transparent they are with what they are putting into their products and what the consumer with therefore be putting on their body. They lose slight points here for not highlighting the slight, but still existent risks that go along with some of their ingredients such as Ozokerite which has been the the subject of a few studies, most notably the NIH, in respects to its effects of long term exposure. The results were not fully conclusive but do suggest “chronic inflammation due to foreign body response,” as a result of long-term exposure to OZK. However, the slight negatives are counteracted by the positive ingredients such as Probiotics, Coconut Oil and Shea Butter. While they are very transparent about their ingredients, they are less so about where they are sourcing their raw materials from. This is slightly disheartening as a consumer of the product.
Native Headquarters is based in San Francisco, California and they claim that all of their products are crafted in the United States as all of their manufacturing facilities are in the US. This helps to limit the amount of fossil fuels and non-renewable resources that are used for transportation of products oversees to outsourcing production centers in order to reduce how much the company pays for production. They use high quality ingredients, but Native does not claim to be organic in their production. This claim is refreshing as the word “organic” has become a word heavily weaved into the world of greenwashing and does not hold much meaning anymore. It is more of a key word that companies print on labels in hopes of increasing sales. I respect Native for not hoping on this bandwagon The packaging for this Plastic free line of Native Deodorants is 100% plastic free and made 100% of paperboard. They also use soy based inks on the exterior packaging for design. While this is great to hear, I wish they were a little more detailed on where they are sourcing the paperboard and how decomposable it is compared to their previous packaging. Native provided an impressive statistic stating that “switching Native Plastic Free from our classic deodorant will help reduce plastic waste by up to 169 tons each year.”
Native as a company is not complacent in regards to taking steps towards the sustainability of their company. They state “It frustrates me that businesses often wait for the perfect solution and set goals for 2030, 2040, and beyond. There is always an excuse. It's too expensive, or the customer experience isn’t perfect or there is an environmental tradeoff. In the end, there is a lot of debate and little action.” This statement captures the frustration many consumers including myself feels. At first I was fearful these were just actionless claims and words, however, Native has taken action to better themselves while other companies make meaningless promises. Native created an initiative called “Plastic Free by '23.” This is promising as they have already shown their ability to create products that are completely free of plastic and still relatively the same cost. They also members of 1% for the Plant. This means that they donate 1% of their Plastic Free sales to the fight against “plastic pollution". Native Deodorant also won an award from allure for their clean beauty. The Native website did not have much information regarding their employees benefits and protections and the work environment in which Native fosters. Their was limited information on social justice, racial or gender equity initiatives they are a part. I was able to find one recent initiative called Show Your Love. Native pledges that "if you donate to any LGBTQ+ organization of your choice, send us the receipt and receive 20% off* your next purchase". This is a great initiative that shows Native's support of the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month. They also are a partners with the LGBT Asylum Project, stating, "We believe support and solidarity should extend beyond the month of June." As a consumer, I recommend that Native makes information about their social justice and environmental initiatives more available and easily accessible to the consumer so they are better able to evaluate the company as a whole for themselves.