Megken here – “We are all on Spaceship Earth… Teach the Moral ABC that unites all mankind, free, instantly 6 billion strong & we’re all one.” Does this sound familiar? It’s the preaching of Dr. Bronner. Yes, the soap-maker. The soap you find in the health food stores with all the tiny writing on the labels. I never bothered to read it until Meg and I watched a documentary about Dr. Bronner called “Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox”. I am not going to review the soap but give you a quick review of the film and talk about conveying messages through products and social entrepreneurship.
The film tries to focus on Dr. Emanuel Bronner, but since he passed away before the film was shot the film makers had to use old home movies and stories about him, mostly through the family members and employees. He lived his final years blind, but with such a positive attitude it is an inspiration for all of us. He claimed to be rabbi and as well as Albert Einstein’s nephew (and you think you have some wacky relatives?)
The film tracks his whole life. He was born in Germany to a long line of soap makers. In the forties he escaped from a mental institution, moved to California and he started manufacturing ‘Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap,’ a peppermint-infused, all-natural, multi-purpose liquid. Today it sprung a multi-million dollar company. His simple single color labels are jam-packed with words and if you just read it briefly it seems like lunacy or looks like it may cause your own personal insanity. But on careful study you can find a virtuous message that he called ‘The Moral ABC,’ with a purpose, ‘TO UNITE ALL MANKIND FREE!’
The film is entertaining, a bit unpolished and does have room for improvement. It would have been nice to ask more penetrating questions to his heirs about the message and why they think the teachings are still worth keeping on Dr. Bronner’s the label. I loved the part in the film where they explained that if someone would not listen to what Dr. Bronner was saying he would not let them place an order of the soap. Passing along the message for him was more important than the money.
In the beauty and fashion industry today we often see, but not often enough, causes associated with brands. I like to see “no animal testing” (I just heard the Megheads cheer!). I praise Urban Decay on their dedication to make it known that they do not harm animals in testing and manufacturing.
I do want to know if it was a makeup tester that came up with the saying “If you put lipstick on a pig- it is still a pig.”
There are companies out there that are very socially conscious and it assists to generate publicity. Josie Maran Cosmetics uses recycled containers, no animal testing, biodegradable, sustainable as part of her brand.
The beauty industry is filled with many products that are concerns, hair color, hair relaxer, nail polish, and nail polish remover sometimes are using toxins. There are concerns with use of formaldehydes, Lead Acetate and Mercury. I have heard the phrase “Dangerous Beauty” now I know what they are talking about.
I am very familiar with social entrepreneurship. It is no secret that a cause is a good way to help people or animal rights and a way to get exposure. When corporations want to change their image or even just want to send out a positive impression aligning or creating a charity seems to be a benefit to the company. The first Ronald McDonald House was built in 1974 and when you think about it, you think how all those Big Macs are helping Kids rather than where the meat comes from. Well, that may be a stretch. However, the Ronald McDonald house is a good organization that has helped many families.
The sixty-year-old company, Dr. Bronner Magic Soap does practice fair trade and the executive salaries are capped at five times the companies lowest paid position. So you can feel good when you buy their product that they are sticking to their founder’s creed. They have programs to fund local development projects for the farmers and workers around the world where they purchase their materials. Dr. Bronner said, “Constructive Capitalism is where you share the profit with the workers and the Earth from which you made it!” The Bronners, a Jewish family, is importing 90% of their Organic Olive Oil from a Palestinian and Israeli company. It is symbolic and also appropriate to talk about oil in this Chanukah time of year where the Jewish people celebrate the miracle of the tiny amount of oil lasting 8 days. The image of a dove with an olive branch in its beak is all I need to say about the symbolism. These two people united to produce olive oil is what Bronner’s message is all about. Peace for this 60-year conflict through an economic co-existence is going to do more than any government accords.
I will save the review of the soap for a later date. However, I will leave you with the words from the rant of the late Dr. Bonner printed on the label, “LISTEN CHILDREN ETERNAL FATHER ETERNALLY ONE! For on God’s Spaceship Earth, with Bomb & Gun, we’re All-One or none! All-One! All-One! Exceptions eternally? Absolute none!”
What are some of the companies beauty or otherwise that you like and support that have a social entrepreneurship agenda?
Do you want to tell us about any companies that say they have a good cause but it’s really “lipstick on a pig”? What about Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap? Have any of you tried the Dr. Bronner line?