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Dr. Bronner's Soap Fair Trade Focus

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.

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43 comments

Comments

Gretjen Anderson says …

I'm glad to see that Dr. Bonner's line is eco friendly. I support fair trade items when available.

David says …

I usually buy organic fair trade items

C. Brown says …

Fair trade goods are a tangible part to social justice.

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

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.

Robin Chesser says …

I support the Union Square farmers market buying all my produce and flours for baking there.

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.

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.

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.

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.

paul haddock says …

I'd like to win

FRAN KLAPPA says …

we love the farm, and would love this trip to explore the different markets.....

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.

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!

nancy says …

I try to buy local as much as possible and, of course, and fair trade products, as well.

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!

Christine says …

I love Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap! It's amazing how one product can (successfully) take the place of numerous ones.

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.

Irene says …

I love Dr. Bronners pure-castile soaps and have used them for years. I buy organic fair trade items whenever I can.

Kai says …

I shop at Whole Foods! My favorite store.

carol says …

i've been using Dr. Bronners for probably 30 years, i love it and give it to friends and my sisters.

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.

anna t. says …

I always try to buy local fruits & vegetables from our farmer's markets to support the local economy.

Cheese Addict says …

As diverse as Hawaii is, living in paradise comes at a huge price. Whenever possible, I prioritize my purchases first by trying to choose the best locally grown products,then products grown and made in the U.S. As much as 80% of what is purchased is imported on containers. Land is a highly limited resource. The poor economy has forced closure on many local companies that once provided great resources for the state. Gaining hands on knowledge in Sri Lanka would be a great opportunity to share with farmers and other trades here (and on my future dream acreage)to restore so many communities on the islands that have been crippled by the economic devastation placed on families and towns who have continued traditions for generations. Large companies who built these islands over a hundred years ago have closed or diversified into other areas with nothing to replace these industries. I would love to win this trip so we can add new resources hat are strong, enduring, and have the ability to diversify. The primary source economic survival is tourism. Hawaii needs more than one source. Hawaii also needs to build resources to provide a greater independence from having virtually everything shipped in. Rebuilding our dying towns once sustained by sugar and pineapple industries need the knowledge of fair trade practices to regain pride,independence and a future for generations to come.

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.

George Conn Huffaker says …

What a great opportunity! We love EVERYTHING about Dr. Bonner's products.

Sharland Huffaker says …

My bags are packed . . . I'm ready to leave!!

Sandy says …

This video was awesome, and just tremendously inspiring!!! In a world where we can sometimes feel as though we may not be contributing or changing things enough, or not as empowered as we would like to feel, and where there is so much BAD news, it is fantastic to see what companies like Bronner's are doing to help the planet. They do have amazing products, so it's not too much of a surprise to find that they are on board with Fair Trade practices. And I never really knew what that encompassed until I saw this video. Kudos to you, Bronner's, and other companies who support this!

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

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.

Deb says …

What a learning experience and a chance of a lifetime! What a great way to teach and spread the word.

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.

josh says …

this is such an inspiring story of sustainable products produced in a community that is reaping some of the rewards of the operation. i try to purchase local products to minimize the footprint and also monitor for fair trade products as they are an important part of social justice issues and reflect back upon us in how we treat each other, our community, and our planet.

Elise says …

I always try to buy local & sustainable products. Thank you whole foods & all my local farmers & farmers markets for making the choices easy.

Ananda Amaray says …

What yoU all are doing is wonderful and remarkable. This is an example to other industies that pays next to nothing. I have few suggestions for your organization to consider.I am sure that these ideas are already in place. Also, our organic foods and other necessities are purchases form wholefoods. HARD HATS FOR COCONUT PLUCKER WITH LONG STICKS AND CLIMBING GLOVES AND SAFEETY GLASSES FOR THE PEOPLE WHO CRAK COCONUTS. INDUSTTIAL BOOTS FOR THE FIELD WORKERS. FIRST AID KITS IN EVERY FACILITY. PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE PLAN FOR EQUIPMET, MACHINES, AND HAND TOOLS CONTINIOUS TRAINING. ONCE A MONTH METTINGS WITH EVERYONE TO SHOW THAT EVERYONE'S OPINION IS WELL RECEIVED. AWARDS. Thanks.

frances brockway says …

I buy fair trade products whenever possible and would love to visit Sri Lanka as I enjoy learning about all cultures.

Chris van Paasschen says …

I try to buy local food to support the local economy, and fair trade products to support those who participate so their lives can be enriched as well. I think it would be an absolutely phenominal experience to go to Sri Lanka, to learn what they are doing as well as to learn about their food, culture, interests, and all those other things that make people who they are.

Lanie says …

We are all connected. More the same as each other than different. Buying local or fair trade is the only way we honor and respect each other. I would love to be connected with a trip to Sri Lanka.

Holly Ward says …

I agree Dr. Bronner's soaps are wonderful. It's just too bad the Los Altos Whole Foods does not carry them.

Pam Iacone says …

I raised by two sons on Dr. Bronner's Soaps - our family has been vegan for over 6 years and Dr. Bronner's Soaps mean even more to us because of they are fair trade and cruelty free. I would love to win the trip for my 22 year-old son who is trying to start his own fair trade business and make a difference in the world.

Henna says …

wanted to participate in the sweepstake for a tour to Sri Lanka. I followed your message: "Make sure to enter the contest through the Fair World Project website." but your link is broken -- does not work.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@HENNA - Thanks for your comment. Sorry for the confusion but this contest has ended.

Lucy P says …

Do you palm oil in your products? I can't seem to find any cosmetic hair/ skincare brand that doesn't. Please help me make an educated choice. Thank you.