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WHAT ARE "NATURAL"
SOAPS AND CLEANERS?

Everybody says they are “All Natural”; can they all be?Uranium is natural; poison ivy is natural. “Botanical Essenced Shampoo” (no botanical - no essence) says it’s naturaltoo.The base ingredients might even have been a coconut — seven moleculartransformations ago. If you’ve ever wondered what they are all talking about then listen to thisstory.…

I was doing a presentation about our company to a business group when thisguy comes up madder than a hornet. He says “I can’t stand you guys runningaround saying you’re natural and everyone else is not. I work for__(multinational) and everything we make is just as natural as what youdo.”

I check him out carefully. “You have some chemical or pharmaceuticalbackround don’t you?”

“I am a pharmacist, have a doctorate in chemistry and am corporatevice-president.”

“OK, so your perception is that everything’s made from molecules; andmolecules are found in nature. Therefore everything is natural!”

“Yes!" he says brightening. “Finally someone knows what I’m talkingabout...” He stops when he sees the look on my face.

“Look” I said. “You guys use artificial colors and fragrances — right?

”“And you use preservatives and test on animals to hold down the lawsuits?And your molecular source can be animal, vegetable, mineral or petroleum?”

”Certainly.”

“There you have it! That’s the difference between a natural company and themass market!”

I follow his glance across the room..

“Your daughter?” I ask.

He nods. “My only one. She could have any product we make, but what doesshe use?” He looks disdainfully at my display of natural bar and liquid soaps andnontoxic cleaners.

“This stuff!”I understand his pain.

Back in my office the following day I was thinking about the interchange,when I realized that there just is not a decent definition of the word“Natural” for our industry. Furthermore, it quickly became clear thatnatural cannot be codified - like the ten commandments. It is about betterchoices and the responsibility inherent in those choices. It is aboutstaying as close to the original form as possible. It is about developing amore integrated and long term view of everything that we do.Here’s what I came up with:

What is Natural?

Natural means as close to original form as is feasible and effective.

Natural is about choices — organic before pesticides — botanicals beforeartificial colors and fragrances — vegetable based before animal — reusablebefore disposable.

Natural is about big picture thinking — it’s about socially responsiblebusiness — it’s looking at how we source, formulate and package and how wedispose of what’s left. It’s about the relationship between producer andend user and the planet that we share.

Natural is about tipping the balance.

Natural is about integrity.

Salesman stops by the other day. He tells me that his almond fragrance(by-product of the margarine industry) could be used in my products andthat they would still be all natural.

He said, “Almonds are found in nature and this is the scent of naturalalmonds.” Go figure.

It all comes down to voting with your wallet. What do you support with yourbuying habits?

No judgments here (we can all do better), but think about it. Whichindustries do your dollars support — and which do they not support! For mymoney the most anti- natural and anti- life have to be the entirepetrochemical family of industries. Fuel, plastics, pesticides, dyes andfragrances, foaming agents, etc. Ever notice that we sensitive humans donot do well when exposed to this stuff? Of course these companies own hugemedia and political machines as well. How about some long term thinkinghere guys? While we still have a planet worth living on..…

Now what difference, you may ask, is my little bit of conscious consuminggoing to make on a world wide paradigm? Plenty! You already know thatbusiness responds to the marketplace. In the case of natural personal care products - and surveys show that about50% of the American population desire naturalness in their products — bigbusiness respond with “Greenwashing." Same stuff we’ve been getting sinceW.W.II — with new “green” packaging and traces of diluted botanicals;supported of course by a national media blitz and celebrityendorsements....Now, how do we get the customers to realize that our stuffis really natural!

Saw some references to natural castile liquid soap. It was in a tradejournal for natural leaning pharmacists. Nothing they said about thiscategory of vegetable oil based foaming liquids was complementary.I noted that the author was a consultant for the detergent trade. They are paying attention!Natural is about the future!Natural is about you!


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