Last Update: November 23, 2022
In 1948, Emmanuel Bronner founded the now-iconic castile soap brand Dr. Bronner’s.
Decades, later in 2003, Dr. Bronner’s became the largest personal care company to be certified USDA organic, during a time when greenwashing was rampant and true organic practices were largely misunderstood.
“Emanuel Bronner was ahead of his time, making biodegradable soaps with simple, environmentally responsible formulas in 1948,” says Sara Tajik, Marketing Campaign Specialist at Dr. Bronner’s. “Since then, Dr. Bronner’s has created a truly sustainable and ethical supply chain by sourcing all major ingredients from certified fair trade and organic farmers using regenerative practices.”
Those causes include advocating for the legalization of U.S. hemp importation and hemp farming; sourcing all our major raw materials from certified fair trade sources starting in 2006; and most recently, with Regenerative Organic Certified™.
With this certification, Dr. Bronner’s continues its commitment to the environment through unwavering quality principles and a uniquely intimate approach to addressing climate change. And they’ve done it all with personality—the kind that helped make their brand a beloved household name over the last century.
In 2017, Dr. Bronner’s, Patagonia, the Rodale Institute, and other regenerative organic allies joined together to establish the Regenerative Organic Alliance, an organization that works to “heal a broken system, repair a damaged planet, and empower farmers and eaters to create a better future through regenerative organic farming”.
Dr. Bronner’s CEO, David Bronner (which, at Dr. Bronner’s, stands for Cosmic Engagement Officer, not Chief Executive Officer) sits on the board of the Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA) with fellow allies to help guide the framework of the organization’s work. Their main objectives include increasing soil health, improving animal welfare, and providing economic stability and equitable treatment for farmers all over the world, which they do with guidance from farmers, researchers, educators, policymakers, businesses, individuals, and other experts in the field of agriculture and environmentalism. “None of us can do this alone,” is a large piece of Dr. Bronner’s—and the ROA’s—belief system.
The ROA was established to uphold the major tenets of regenerative agriculture through Regenerative Organic Certified. According to Tajik, the Regenerative Organic Alliance “oversees Regenerative Organic Certified guidelines, challenging growers to ‘farm like the world depends on it’”—the organization’s tagline and, in many ways, something the ROA means quite literally.
By adopting regenerative organic practices on more farms around the world, the ROA hopes they can create long-term solutions to the climate crisis, factory farming, and fractured rural economies. In action, Regenerative Organic Certified enables manufacturers and producers to certify products to the highest standard for regenerative agriculture, for both the earth and for the farmers and producers who make them.
Regenerative Organic Certified was created to “leverage and bring together existing high-bar certifications in order to avoid duplicative audits or burdensome paperwork”. This acknowledges the existence of other, similar certifications, primarily USDA Organic. According to their mission statement: “With USDA Organic certification as a baseline, Regenerative Organic Certified recognizes the strong work already conducted by existing animal welfare and social fairness standard bodies, and therefore, leverages this work as part of the journey to Regenerative Organic Certified.”
On a more personal note, you may even recognize the origins of Regenerative Organic Certified from Dr. Bronner’s now-iconic packaging. “Regenerative Organic Certified is a crucial piece of Dr. Bronner’s Cosmic Principle #4–Treat the Earth like home!” Tajik says.
Shopping looks a lot different, in all the best ways, when you choose products that support ethical supply chains and environmentally conscious practices. Dr. Bronner’s Regenerative Organic Certified products make that simple and straightforward. Here are a few Dr. Bronner’s Regenerative Organic Certified products you can shop at Thrive Market.
Dr. Bronner’s Regenerative Organic Certified Virgin Coconut Oil is the first and only Regenerative Organic Certified coconut oil on the market. It’s sourced from farmers in Sri Lanka using regenerative organic practices (like mulching, composting, and intercropping) that enrich the soil and sequester atmospheric carbon.
To make this rich, nutty coconut oil, regeneratively grown coconuts are carefully harvested and dried. The oil is then expeller-pressed for a pure and flavorful taste.
Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-One Chocolate is on the path to becoming entirely Regenerative Organic Certified in 2023; currently, the chocolate is made with Regenerative Organic Certified cocoa, cocoa butter, and coconut sugar.
When the Dr. Bronner’s team learned that many of the 800 farmers in their Regenerative Organic Certified Serendipalm sister project also grew cocoa, it seemed like the perfect chance to work toward a regenerative organic chocolate.
The team also introduced dynamic agroforestry alongside the chocolate. Dynamic agroforestry is the integration of complementary trees and other crops. It creates biodiversity, offers farmers more security, and avoids the use of toxic chemicals, so soil in this regenerative system is more resilient, contains more nutrients, holds water better, and mitigates global climate change by capturing more carbon.
In lieu of traditional white sugar, which is often heavily processed and not thoughtfully sourced, Dr. Bronner’s sweetens their Magic All-One Chocolate with the world’s first Regenerative Organic Certified coconut sugar from Aliet Green, a women-owned social enterprise founded by Lastiana Yuliandari, which is dedicated to regenerative farming and giving back to the community.
“Lastiana and her team directly manage the fair trade funds that are designated for community projects for full transparency on how they’re bettering the community,” Tajik explains. “Over the years, her team has funded everything from higher education scholarships to infrastructure repairs, even building a new school for the community.”
“We’re in a pivotal time for regenerative organic farming in the world, both because of the momentum we’re gaining in the industry and, more importantly, the urgency of the climate crisis we’re facing,” Tajik says. “Dr. Bronner’s is continuing to spread Regenerative Organic Certified by expanding our regenerative organic supply chain, supporting allies in the space, and growing awareness of this revolutionary certification with customers, retailers, and policymakers.”
To date, Dr. Bronner’s can count a handful of their most widely used ingredients as Regenerative Organic Certified. These include their coconut oil, palm oil, cocoa, cocoa butter, coconut sugar, cane sugar, and mint oil — but according to the brand, they’re just getting started.
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