Everything we consume, whether it’s food or soap or clothes or a radio, everything has a human labor component. And was that labor, was that human person who produced it were they respected or were they exploited? Mint is obviously our most famous scent it’s Dr. Bronner’s favorite soap, it’s our original soap and we want to produce our soaps in a way that every farmer and every worker involved is respected and being paid a fair price so that they can support their families and send their kids to school. There wouldn’t be a Dr. Bronner’s soap company today if it wasn’t for our peppermint soap and there wouldn’t be peppermint soap if it wasn’t for our partners in India making the organic peppermint oil that goes into it. About fifteen years ago, when we decided that we wanted to know where our ingredients come from to go direct for mint India was a natural option for us. It’s been a major producer of mint for a long time. When I smell the peppermint soap it brings me back to my childhood. Going to visit my grandfather who always seemed to have the smell of peppermint radiating from his pores. He started making peppermint soap in small batches at home I think he really wanted to make something that would be more than a soap but also a sensory experience. Mint’s a very evocative scent for me personally it just reminds me of my grandad, and his life. Mint has always been our bestseller it’s really what people identify with when they think of Dr. Bronner’s we sell a bottle of peppermint soap every ten seconds it accounts for one eighth of all natural soaps sold in America. “…that no amount of that hippie Dr. Bronner’s soap can wash off” My grandfather put his philosophy on the bottle of soap and what this generation is doing is taking that message off the bottle and applying it wherever we can. We’re in Bareilly, in Uttar Pradesh, northern India Dr. Bronner’s has been sourcing mint oils in this area since 2003. Over the years that we’ve worked here we realized that one of the key challenges that farmers are facing is the deterioration in the quality of their soil. The result of industrial agriculture has been a global catastrophe of our agricultural landscape. The natural ecosystems are just destroyed carbon is oxidized up into the air so it’s a massive contributor of greenhouse gas both in the effect of how it’s ripping fertility out of our soils but also the chemicals themselves have massive energy footprints. So regenerative organic agriculture is about reversing all that disaster and it’s a strategy that mimics nature, farming in nature’s image and when you look at a natural ecosystem there’s no external chemical inputs no synthetic fertilizers, no pesticides it’s a totally self-regenerating system. The key practices that farmers are using to regenerate the soil and bring back the carbon that has been lost to the atmosphere, are simple. It’s the production and application of compost it’s the use of mulches that’s crop residues that are just left on the fields it’s the shift to conservation tillage practices that do not go as deep and are not as destructive it’s the use of cover crops, so soil does not go uncovered in between crops and it’s rotational crops that bring back nitrogen to the soil. Soil is a living ecosystem, it’s incredibly complex and healthy crops, and healthy food and amazing mint oil is a by-product of really healthy, living soil. Depleted mismanaged soil is like a clearcut forest. And when you properly manage soil, you bring that soil back to life it’s like reforestation. The importance of sourcing mint in an organic and regenerative fashion is that it supports such a huge land base and a huge number of farmers. We don’t really differentiate so much between regenerative organic and fair trade. To us, it’s all one! What we’re looking for in a fair trade partner is a similar set of ideals we’re looking for trust and integrity. The way we approach money is as energy to create a better world and we want to make sure our local partners have that same philosophy and Nihal and the team he has, they’re just the ideal partner for us. They’re excited by regenerative organic. Excited like we are, to be a steward of the land and just figuring out what are the best practices and techniques. What’s different under fair trade is the individual farmer will receive a ten percent organic premium over that market rate and, another ten percent which then goes into a community fund and that money can then be spent on various things whether it’s health, whether it’s clean water those things are decided on by the committee here. Fair trade for us provides an opportunity for our customers to use their dollars to make real differences in communities around the world. All of our ingredients have a story as far as where in the world they’re coming from and it’s really important to us to make sure that our raw materials we know who’s producing them we’re in a fair long-term relationship with them and the way they’re being grown is regenerative and respects the soil, rewards farmers makes sure that everyone’s winning. That’s our committment. We have the solution. We can stop being part of the problem and be part of the solution.