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Dr. Bronner's Soap Fair Trade Focus

By Elizabeth Leader Smith, May 12, 2012  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Elizabeth Leader Smith

Happy World Fair Trade Day! To mark this annual global celebration, I want to take a few minutes to spotlight one of our partners, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap.

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap was one of the first Whole Body™ products offered at our original Whole Foods Market® store in Austin, Texas, in 1980. Over the years, Dr. Bronner’s has both gained a strong following of dedicated shoppers and shown a steadfast commitment to caring for the communities and environment around them. The two achievements aren’t mutually exclusive, of course.


As a company offer fair trade products, Dr. Bronner’s extends that philosophy to the farmers and workers around the world who produce their major raw materials. In shifting their supply chains to Fair Trade ingredients, the company made a big difference in the lives of several thousand farmers and workers who, along with their families and communities, benefit from fair prices, living wages and funding for local development projects.

Take a closer look at one Fair Trade ingredient and its impact on one man and his community.

Coconut Oil from Sri Lanka

When they couldn’t find a suitable supply of fair trade organic coconut oil for their products, Dr. Bonner’s founded Serendipol (Pvt) Ltd., a Sri Lankan subsidiary, in 2007. Serendipol’s first task was to recruit coconut growers and convert them to organic and fair trade practices. They hired Dhanoj Meegahapola to manage the Fair Trade programs and purchasing of coconuts.

After Dhanoj’s own small coconut fiber business failed due to a drop in the market, the offer to set up Serendipol’s organic and fair trade structure changed his life and eventually those around him. Dhanoj trained a team of five extension officers, who then identified and converted some 400 growers with a combined 6,300 acres to organic practices. The team now handles the purchasing of some 15 million coconuts per year.

Dhanoj has been empowered by the company’s commitment to organic and fair trade practices and has had the opportunity to implement his favorite ideas – fair compensation, support of farmer and worker families, providing basic needs such as health care in rural areas and education – through hands-on economic activity. For example, he offers counseling services to workers and their families, who often go through family crises without having tools for conflict resolution.

Thanks to Dhanoj and others like him, Serendipol is now the world’s foremost source of organic and Fair Trade virgin coconut oil. They supply cosmetics-grade coconut oil for Dr. Bronner’s soaps and premium-quality, food-grade coconut oil, as well as organic coconut oil, to other like-minded companies.

Notably, fair trade certification mandates a 10% margin be put into a fund to pay for community projects. Serendipol’s Fair Trade Fund collects more than $150,000 per year from its customers for community development projects. Funded projects include procuring critical medical equipment for several local hospitals and providing schools with toilets and books, as well as projects for Serendipol’s workers, such as home improvement funds and school supplies.

Their committee is also working to help disadvantaged rural communities connect to the grid and have their own water supply at a low cost. Learn more about Serendipol’s efforts in this video:

Choices count Small choices you make every day really make a difference in the world. When you choose products like Dr. Bronner’s Magic “All-One!” Soaps or their Fair Trade & Organic Fresh-Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil, you are actively using your buying power to create new economic opportunities for workers in the developing world. Imagine the possibilities.

Category: Whole Trade




C. Brown says ...
Fair trade goods are a tangible part to social justice.
05/16/2012 4:32:22 PM CDT
steve lewis says ...
My great Aunt was a missionary inBritish rules Ceylon I would love to visit the country she told me stories about as a small child
05/16/2012 4:43:11 PM CDT
Kari Ehrhardt says ...
I do as much shopping for my groceries at my local farmers market as possible. I usually buy organic fair trade items for my personal care items. I try to buy clothing that is made within the USA or is fair trade as much as possible.
05/16/2012 4:46:56 PM CDT
Robin Chesser says ...
I support the Union Square farmers market buying all my produce and flours for baking there.
05/16/2012 4:53:11 PM CDT
Debbie Chioffe says ...
Choices certainly DO count! So do acts, purchases, and ideas! Every little thing counts (of course BIG things too) whether it is a random one time help..which can change the World and/or change lives..or an ongoing thing. A tiny act, or choice, done consistantlt every day can make an irreversable difference in lives and the world as we know it. Please include me in this contest. The choice to look on this page, at the exact time that I did, and the choice that I made to enter this contest, could forever alter my life in an excellent way, and create memories that will last for me as long as I am on this Planet..and beyond.
05/16/2012 4:57:58 PM CDT
Gerry says ...
I purchase my fruits and vegetables local farmer markets. i would love to win a fair trade adventure. It would be an experience of a lifetime.
05/16/2012 5:10:52 PM CDT
Linda Maynard says ...
When we travel we seek out eco-resorts and places that support their local communities- we would love to travel to this region! Consumers choices Do matter- we can say no to palm oil from mass farmed areas in Indonesia, we can buy products not tested on animals- every little bit does make a difference. I try to make the best choices that I can to support sustainability- globally.
05/16/2012 5:31:31 PM CDT
Donna Ellis says ...
My interest in agricultural economics began in college. As can best be done, buying Fair Trade products, supporting consumer and producer coops of all kinds, choosing organic products when available, conserving water and other sustainable practices are part of daily living for me. Our actions speak louder than our words. I would share a Fair Trade Sri Lanka adventure with my husband and in turn share it through pictures and talks with family, friends, neighbors and other groups.
05/16/2012 5:55:40 PM CDT
paul haddock says ...
I'd like to win
05/16/2012 6:09:42 PM CDT
FRAN KLAPPA says ...
we love the farm, and would love this trip to explore the different markets.....
05/16/2012 6:40:05 PM CDT
lynn wright says ...
I buy alot of my produce at local farm markets. I commend the efforts of various international groups for helping out our environment. I would love to win this trip to experience what they are doing.
05/16/2012 6:40:21 PM CDT
Irene says ...
I'm thrilled when I see this ad. My nephew is going to marry a girl, named Danielle, from Sri Lanka. I got the invitation to their wedding but I don't have the funds to go. I wish hard that I'll win!
05/16/2012 6:45:31 PM CDT
nancy says ...
I try to buy local as much as possible and, of course, and fair trade products, as well.
05/16/2012 6:47:18 PM CDT
Irene says ...
My son and I would love to take the fair trade adventure in Sri Lanka for 17 days. It sounds like a dream come true for us!
05/16/2012 6:49:19 PM CDT
Christine says ...
I love Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap! It's amazing how one product can (successfully) take the place of numerous ones.
05/16/2012 6:50:29 PM CDT
Todd says ...
I've been using dr. bronner's for years because it is safe outdoors so it makes great camping soap. Since I purchase fair trade when i can, like with my coffee, it's nice to learn I've been supporting a good company, who makes a great product, for years.
05/16/2012 7:20:49 PM CDT
Irene says ...
I love Dr. Bronners pure-castile soaps and have used them for years. I buy organic fair trade items whenever I can.
05/16/2012 7:37:40 PM CDT
Kai says ...
I shop at Whole Foods! My favorite store.
05/16/2012 8:53:12 PM CDT
carol says ...
i've been using Dr. Bronners for probably 30 years, i love it and give it to friends and my sisters.
05/16/2012 8:54:17 PM CDT
Susan says ...
I love Dr Bronners castile soaps which remind me of the Castile soaps of my childhood--mild, fresh, and versatile. I shop fair trade whenever I can and am glad Dr Bronners is an ethical company.
05/16/2012 9:09:09 PM CDT
Donna Mae says ...
I support my local economy going to farmer's market and natural food stores. I prefer everything all natural and in harmony with nature that our communities can survive. It is a good thing for those that we cannot grow here that we do support those import items with good quaility and fair wages. They too got to live without having to do without the basic necessities such as schools and medical care and good safe waate rto drink. Everyone deserves that much to be a human being. I am conscious of what I put into and on my body and enviroment along with my pets and more. I grow my own veggies and herbs with little fruits organically. I buy those that are responsibly sourced such as wild fisheries and organics to live in harmony with nature without any degradtions. We all must have basic needs met. I have great compassion for those needs.
05/17/2012 2:04:39 AM CDT
Joasia says ...
I would love to see the farm. I try to buy as much of local food as possible, my favorite food market is Union Square in NY
05/17/2012 7:45:25 AM CDT
Kevin Duclos says ...
There would be no better opportunity to support and applaud the efforts of the Farm in Sri Lanka. I buy all Dr. Bronner's products and have been since 1990 when I worked in a health food store in College. This is a great way to support and help the community.
05/17/2012 8:02:44 AM CDT
Deb says ...
What a learning experience and a chance of a lifetime! What a great way to teach and spread the word.
05/17/2012 8:33:00 AM CDT
Maude says ...
I love Dr Bronner's Castile soaps. They are so mild, so fresh, and so very versatile. I would welcome the opportunity to visit Serendipol’s coconut oil mill and to meet their team. I hope more companies follow Dr. Bronner's example of giving back to the communities they do business in.
05/17/2012 8:45:35 AM CDT