Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dr Bonners and why it is good for you and the planet!

There's a common narrative that unfolds the first time you buy Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap. It starts in the store, where the bottles, with their brightly colored, text-heavy labels, line up like cure-alls from some deranged medicine man. You pick one up. Later, in the shower, there comes a curious tingling sensation after you've lathered up your nether regions. That's when you reach for the bottle again to give it a closer read.
There are quotes from Mao, Jesus, Hillel, Einstein, and George Washington, among others. There's something called the Moral ABC, which appears to be a philosophy for uniting all humans on Spaceship Earth. There's a lot of religious ranting, a liberal dose of exclamation points, and instructions for cleansing your "mind-body-soul-spirit instantly."
Now you're more curious than ever. And if you read enough of the label and happen to Google Dr. Bronner after you've toweled off, you'll discover the story of the late Emanuel Bronner, which reads like bizarro fiction. (We'll get to it shortly.) That story is just the beginning......In 2005, David decided he couldn't in good conscience buy raw materials from operations that didn't take labor practices as seriously as he did, so he set a two-year goal of switching all the company's major ingredients to certified fair trade. Only one problem: Nobody could find any certified organic and fair-trade farms that produced some of those ingredients.
The solution: Get into the farming business. By 2008, Dr. Bronner's owned a 200-employee fair-trade coconut-oil operation in Sri Lanka and a 150-employee palm-oil plant in Ghana, and had partnered on a peppermint-oil operation in India. Maybe the most audacious fair-trade project so far has been a partnership that combines olive oils from farmers in the West Bank and Israel, and has become a symbol of Israeli-Palestinian coexistence. Emanuel Bronner would be proud.

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