Dr. Bronner’s aims to ‘Heal Earth!’ through regenerative agriculture

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Dr. Bronner’s aims to ‘Heal Earth!’ through regenerative agriculture
Regenerative agriculture is not exactly a buzz word quite yet, but it is certainly one to watch, and Dr. Bronner’s, known for its natural soaps, is now playing a big part in raising the profile of this vital movement.

Just over a month ago the Regenerative Organic Certification (ROC) program was launched at the Natural Products Expo West 2018, an initiative the company has been heavily involved in.

Led by the Rodale Institute and spearheaded by both Dr. Bronner’s and outdoor apparel company Patagonia, the  primary aim of ROC is to set the bar on good land and farm management worker fairness and soil health in a bid to turn the page on industrial farming.

ROC program meets with ‘thoughtful criticism’

Cosmetics Design spoke to

Ryan Zinn
Ryan Zinn, Organic & Fair Trade Coordinator with Dr. Bronner’s

to find out how, one month after its launch, the idea of ROC and regenerative agriculture is being received by the industry.

“Feedback to the launch of Regenerative Organic Certification has been positive and we’ve received thoughtful criticism and curiosity from consumers, retailers, manufacturers and farmers,”​ Zinn said.

“There is understanding throughout the industry that our standards for organic need to be further underscored by commitments to soil health, animal welfare and social justice. As we enter the pilot program period, we are committed to further improving and developing the standard, in response to the healthy skepticism that has been offered, and are encouraged in this process by the overall support and encouragement we’ve received in response to this necessary new certification.”

Standing out in the crowd

Obviously there is already a lot of noise in the natural and organic certification space, with the USDA Organic lab

el leading the way, but the team at Dr. Bronner’s believes ROC goes further because it specifically addresses the crucial areas of soil health.

As Stansbury explains, USDA Organic is essentially the “entry point” and the first steps towards adopting the ROC program.

“ROC seeks to strengthen consumers' and producers’ commitment to organic farming and organic products, and overall influence the market to embrace products and brands that meet these high standards for regenerative agriculture. In that way, we see ROC as a complementary standard to other certification programs that similarly ensure social justice, animal welfare and soil health, such as Fair Trade, Cruelty- Free, and other organic certification standards,”​ Zinn said.  

How does it work for suppliers? 

For Dr. Bronner’s a lot of the work has been done to get its suppliers in shape for ROC because they are already certified organic and fair trade, while a strong commitment to regenerative agricultural practices is already in place.


The company has pioneered the use of establishing small holder farmers as its suppliers during the course of the last ten years, but Zinn explains that the company is having to put in the extra work in now to get these suppliers to adopt to the specifics of the ROC model.

“Our suppliers understand the value of an ethical, regenerative agriculture model that uplifts both workers, farmers, and nurtures the land for use by generations to come. We hope that our success in working with suppliers to meet ROC will serve as an example for other companies to embrace the ROC, and that our experience can serve as a learning opportunity for those that undergo the process,”​ Zinn said.

Heal Earth! provides the platform

Through this work with its suppliers, Dr. Bronner’s is aiming to be fully compliant with ROC in the course of the next few years and consumers will be educated about this process through the company’s Heal Earth! Initiative, which is featured on its product labels.

 The company has always worked closely and interactively with its customers, and believes that, with the addition of ROC, they will embrace the higher level of transparency on soil health, animal welfare and social justice.

ROC seeks to educate consumers about the true cost of the products they purchase, including the often invisible environmental externalities of production such as carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions, erosion and loss of soil, and economic exploitation of workers and farmers,” ​said Zinn.

“A product that is certified by the ROC standard may seem more expensive initially to the consumer, however this cost represents the ‘true cost’ of production, when a product is made in accordance with a regenerative agriculture model.”

How ROC aims to make a difference 

Ultimately the aim of ROC is to have a positive impact on consumers’ lives, and perhaps most importantly, to provide tangible improvements to the environment by introducing regenerative agricultural practices that can help reverse the damage to the climate caused by conventional farming.

“The ROC standard is intended to revise our agriculture and production models in such a way that helps reverse the effects of human caused climate change,” said Zinn.

“Regenerative organic agriculture is a tool for sequestering carbon, but furthermore, it’s a first step in a cultural revolution in how we think about the connection between consumers and the environment. As more and more companies commit to ROC, consumers will have more options to engage in responsible, environmentally and socially conscious lifestyles, and ultimately provide an economic tool for us all to reduce our footprint.” 

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