Dr. Bronner’s Soap Company Only Wants Good Things for ‘Spaceship Earth’

Dr. Bronner's Soap Company Only Wants Good Things for 'Spaceship Earth'There are a lot of reasons to love Dr. Bronner’s soap.

We love the old-timey apothecary packaging. We love the fact that the company is certified organic, vegan, not animal tested, and fair-trade. We love the fact that we’re not alone in loving it: celebs from Eva Mendes to Lady Gaga are *ahem* gaga over it. We love how adorably weird the late Dr. Bronner himself was, from the way he refers to the world as “spaceship Earth” to his personal philosophical musings that you can discover via his spoken-word album, released in January.

But one of our favorite reasons to love Dr. Bronner’s is the message behind the soap, the philosophy of Dr. Emanuel Bronner himself that you’ll find on every package: “Whatever unites us is greater than whatever divides us.”

It’s no surprise to anyone who reads the philosophical musings that Bronner crammed onto his packaging (what else are you gonna do in the bath?) that he saw himself a philosopher first and soap-maker second. In fact, Bronner only began selling his castile soap – a recipe perfected over the three generations of soap-makers that preceded him in his native Germany – to finance his preaching on a unified mankind. Once he realized that the soap was doing better than the sermons, he began using the company as a way to spread his ideas, writing his “Moral ABC” on the packaging and refusing to allow any retailer to sell the product who didn’t believe in his teachings.

Emanuel Bronner passed away in 1997, but his grandsons, who now run the business, have continued to further and honor their grandfather’s philosophy and vision.

“We have to realize our transcendent unity across religious and ethnic divides, be responsible in our consumption choices and respect the earth,” CEO David Bronner told AdWeek.

This philosophy of equality and unity is exemplified by everything the company does, made even clearer in the company’s third annual All-One report, “This is Why We Make Soap,” which was released earlier this month and documents the company’s commitment to corporate responsibility, social justice, and sustainability.

The report also details the company’s support for charitable and activist causes, from regenerative agriculture to drug policy reform. In 2016, the report shows, Dr. Bronner’s soap gave $7.2 million of its $106 million in revenue to more than 186 activist and charitable causes around the world.

“By making the best product we can, treating our employees and suppliers fairly, honoring the earth in our decisions, and dedicating our profits to causes that enrich this world, we try to live up to my grandfather’s All-One vision every day,” writes Bronner in the introduction to the report.

But the report is far from mere self-congratulation: it really does illustrate the ways in which the company continues to further the unifying philosophy of Emanuel Bronner, including, for example, a south-up oriented map of the world, to signify the company’s global perspective, which also illustrates four important journeys for the company: that of soap as a global product; Bronner’s, from small-town Germany to Los Angeles; the unique company’s global expansion; and the soap’s fair-trade and organic supply chain.

“In a way our activism is our marketing,” David Bronner told Fast Company of this unique and commendable philosophy.

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Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.