Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap has been my go-to body wash, house cleaner, shaving cream, and more for about a year now. When I started doing my review for Voiz, I was excited to look in to the sustainability practices used by thee company and I was not disappointed. The transparency they have on their website gives me a lot of faith in their practices, and the limited ingredients in their products. This was reassured by the standards of practice they have for sourcing the ingredients, and they also provided a lot of insight into the employee practices they have both in their warehouses and also in their raw ingredient sourcing. I’m really satisfied with the work Dr. Bronner’s has put in in ensuring the sustainability of their product, and that is why I am giving them almost 3 Earths.
When I first look at the list of the ingredients included in Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap, I’m very impressed with how few there are and how easily pronounceable they are. They assert on their website that both their vitamin E and citric acid are non-GMO, and their soap is free of “chelating agents, dyes, whiteners, or synthetic fragrances.” The soap has the following certifications, which they go into more depth in on their website: USDA Organic, Oregon Tilth Certified Organic, Regenerative Organic Certified, Fair for Life, NSF: Personal Care Products Containing Organic Ingredients, Leaping Bunny, Vegan Action, B Corp, Non-GMO Project, and OK Kosher. Some of the smaller ones I hadn’t heard of were Oregon Tilth Certified Organic, which “promotes biologically sound & socially equitable agriculture,” according to the Dr. Bronner’s website. Another one I hadn’t heard of was Regenerative Organic Certified, which applies to the coconut oil used in their soap. ROC is, “holistic agriculture certification encompassing pasture-based animal welfare, fairness for farmers and workers, and robust requirements for soil health and land management.” Dr. Bronner’s website offers a book, called Honor thy Label, which goes into the nitty gritty of their process developing an ethical supply chain, retailing for $28. I also was surprised to see that one of the ingredients included in some of their other products is palm oil. However, they explained that they saw the negative consequences of harvesting palm oil for commercial products, and so they founded their own palm oil project called Serendipalm in Ghana that does not participate in the deforestation and environmental degradation common in the palm oil harvesting industry. All they lack in this department is a bit more insight into the ingredients included into their bottles, which are recyclable. I found more information in the Nature Path’s Sustainability Spotlight, which informed me that they are 100% PET recyclable bottles, which are considered “the world’s most sustainable packaging solution,” as they are fully recyclable.
Dr. Bronner's website states that they are hoping to achieve climate positivity by 2025, which means they will absorb more carbon from the atmosphere than they release. They plan on doing this by, “sending zero waste to landfill, choosing renewable power, efficient transportation, responsible packaging, and sourcing raw materials from smallholder farmers who use regenerative organic practices that draw down atmospheric carbon.” More explicitly, they have stopped the use of chemical fertilizers in India in exchange for more sustainable farming practices, including, “cover cropping, minimal tillage, adding compost, and mulching agricultural waste - and by replanting trees,” according to GreenBiz.com. They have also made progress in renewable energy and sustainable packaging, along with greater fuel-efficient transportation. They claim to make their soap in a more “traditional” way, which through the saponification of fat/oil with an alkali produces glycerin and water. Their soap is also very concentrated and must be distilled with every use, meaning it causes less waste in packaging. They also went into detail on the sourcing of their raw materials, which are all fair trade. These are the principles that make up their practices: fair prices, good labor practices, training, fair trade fund, and environmental sustainability. This means, “implement crop diversity, organic agriculture (no synthetic inputs or pesticides) and other soil fertility measures (use of mulch, compost) for healthy, productive soil.”
A huge part of the Dr. Bronner’s philosophy is progressive business practices, which they go into more depth on in their website. They cover health care for employees and also support families with children up to $5,000. I wish they went into more detail about their employees on their website, but the information they did provide was reassuring. I looked elsewhere to get a bit more information and found on Nature’s Path Sustainability Spotlight that Dr. Bronner’s strives for “constructive capitalism,” and the redistribution of the wealth that they acquire through their revenues. As expressed on the Nature’s Path website, “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.” Dr. Bronner’s also explained that they pay their raw ingredient farmers profit prices, and also provide them with safe, gender-inclusive working conditions that prevent forced and child labor. They teach all of their farmers organic farming practices, including compost and integrated pest management that eco-consciously increase yield. They also contribute a 10% premium for community development projects that are overseen by committees made up of community members and Dr. Bronner’s representatives.