Sunday, September 23, 2007

Organic = Maybe not so great?

The other night Chris and I dropped by our local organic market (a lot like PCC in Seattle) and picked up some groceries. We also needed hand soap so I spent about 10 minutes agonizing over bottles of expensively priced, all-natural, organic soap. Who knew you could charge $6 for a bottle of soap?! Anyway, I absolutely adore this soap because it smells heavenly and the dispenser only squirts out just enough to clean your hands. Plus it claimed to be natural and organic. Lovely! Great for the environment and great for me.

My euphoria lasted until I noticed the name of the company that manufactured my wonderful soap. So here's the problem: I have done an inspection at the factory for the company that manufactures this soap and frankly, they had some environmental issues. I have this picture in my mind of well-paid people making small batches of earth-friendly soap in a tiny shop in Santa Monica that recycles everything and supports the Nature Conservancy. I mean, how else could you expect people to pay 6 bucks for hand soap if it wasn't great stuff? Huge factories, possibly illegal immigrant workers, and environmental problems didn't factor into my fuzzy picture of "organic" soap. Frankly, it was rather depressing.

I'm slowly coming to realize that the environment has become big business, perhaps at the expense of the very cause that people are claiming to protect.