The HistoryDr. Bronner’s was founded in 1948, but the founder, Emanuel Bronner was already a third-generation master soapmaker (the sommeliers of soapmaking). In 1948, his ecological soaps were message driven, attempting to encourage the unification across religious and ethnic divides, which is as pertinent today as it was in the aftermath of World War II. His parents and extended family were killed in Nazi death camps, but rather than becoming embittered, Emanuel spent years spreading what he called The Peace Plan. His Moral ABC? If not for me, who am I? Nobody! Yet, if I’m only for me, what am I? Nothing! If not now, when? Mind blown, Dr. Bronner. Mind Blown. (He was not an “official” doctor by the way.) Still family owned, the mission of “We are All One or None!” sounds like the kind of mantra our divided world needs to get behind.
Staying ConsistentWhile it is much easier to have a shiny happy mission than it is to implement it, this brand has been remarkably consistent with Dr. Bronner’s original desire to, “Share the profits with the workers and the earth from which you made it!” What they call constructive capitalism has been practiced in every aspect of their business. They want to make a difference and it is infused in everything they do, from ensuring that executives only get a maximum of five times the pay of the lowest paid employees to expanding public awareness of environmental issues.
Benefit CorporationIn July 2015, Dr. Bronner’s became a Benefit Corporation, which is a for-profit corporation that makes a positive impact on society and the environment. Dr. Bronner’s recognizes the impact of fair trade to lift and develop farms and communities. They have invested millions into ensuring that over tens of thousands of people are impacted directly. They have a series of principles that infuse their labour practices, from paying farmers fair and stable prices that guarantee a profit to paying a 10% premium to fund community development projects.
TransparencyThe bottles giving the whole story is the first clue that this company has nothing to hide. You can easily look up where they get each of their ingredients. For example, they use palm oil to give the bars their hardness while balancing out other ingredients that melt, like coconut oil. However, they did not want to contribute to the deforestation and endangerment of habitats often associated with palm oil. Dr. Bronner’s found partners in Ghana and recruited smallholder farmers for conversion to organic practices. Serendipalm is now a respected fair trade, organic palm oil project that now is even building a Montessori school in Ghana.
PackagingWhile many brands have partially recyclable plastic, Dr. Bronner’s is 100% PET plastic bottles. They participate in bottle to bottle recycling and as a company they are committed to reducing the amount of waste they send to a landfill to one dumpster a month. On their website, they have an environmental footprint summary, which reviews the net packaging, energy, water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions that the company as a whole generates.
The Six Principles And Fighting BackThe six principles that guide the employees of Dr. Bronner’s could truly be a blueprint for any socially conscious business: Work hard. Grow. Do right by customers. Treat employees like family. Be fair to suppliers. Treat the earth like home. Give and give! David Bronner, the grandson of Emanuel, now runs the company and is seen as similar to his rebellious grandfather, leading the hemp industry in a lawsuit against the government and becoming an activist around pesticides and genetically modified crops. Sometimes it takes a little controversy to make a difference.
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