David Bronner, the president of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps (and grandson of the original Dr. Bronner), on the importance of fair trade and why cleanliness is next to godliness.
Q: Your philosophy is that responsible business goes beyond organic farming. Can you elaborate?
A: We're not only organic, but also fair-trade certified, which is about paying good wages and treating people right. We source our ingredients from all over the world, from Ghana to Sri Lanka, and we are economically invested in those communities.
Q: Each of your labels has 3,500 words on it, many of which are about spirituality. What does that have to do with soap?
A: My grandfather [who started the company 60 years ago] wrote those labels because he lost family in the Holocaust and came out of that experience with an urgent passion to unite people to get over the trivial things that divide us. Just as it says on the label, he felt we are "All-One."
Q: The label also says "18-in-1 uses." Really?
A: Really. People are always writing to tell us about other uses they've found, like washing the car or spraying house plants to keep bugs away. [Check out drbronner.com for more!]
My grandfather was ahead of his time, pushing for a more simplified life. He was witnessing chemicals being dumped into the supply chain in the 1940s and warning people: "Hey! You need to watch out! There are going to be consequences." And that still resonates with people today.