For years I have been using Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. I like the tingly peppermint smell, how clean it makes my skin feel, and the fact that the ingredient list is short and organic. Last weekend, at the annual Washington DC Green Festival, I learned that not only is Dr. B’s good for my body and good for the earth, but it’s good for the Middle East, too!
As it turns out, since 2007 Dr. Bronner’s has been sourcing 100% of its organic olive oil needs from producers in Israel and the West Bank!
The majority (90%) of the oil comes from Palestinians in the West Bank. Dr. B’s works with Canaan Fair Trade, a trading firm founded by Palestinians who “support peaceful co-existence with Israel and see profitable olive farming as one means of improving Palestinians’ economic situation.”
Canaan purchases oil from 1,700 small farmers who are organized in the Palestine Fair Trade Association. Since Palestinian olive oil competes in the global market with subsidized oil from EU countries, oil production was not so economically lucrative in the past. As members of the PFTA, however, small farmers who produce certified Fair Trade and Organic olive oil receive a guaranteed minimum price for the products as well as a Fair Trade premium of 25%.
Furthermore, they are able to protect the earth because the organic olive oil they produce is free of polluting pesticides and fertilizers.
On top of everything else, Dr. B’s has a certain message of peace. The company sources the remaining 10% of their organic olive oil from Sindyanna, a cooperative of Israeli-Arab women, and the Strauss Farm, owned by an Israeli family who pioneered organic olive farming in Israel.
By mixing the olive oil of Israeli and Palestinian farmers in their soaps, Dr. B’s aims to create a powerful symbol for peaceful coexistence. Says Gero Leson, Director of Special Operations,
We want to create cooperation among the crop growers on both sides, and this is another way to help people who are at the bottom of the social and economic ladder. Mixing the oil with soap is only a symbolic act that is important to us and our customers, so that they can know that by mixing the oil of Israeli and Palestinian suppliers, we are supporting both of them.
In my book, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps definitely gets an A+ for sustainable development and corporate social responsibility!
Check out the following Prophecies for more on Fair Trade in Israel and Palestine:
SAHA’s Fairly Local Trade
No Sweat Apparel’s Organic Ts Help Bring Peace to the Middle East
Buying Fair Trade from the Hands of Local Craftswomen.