I love how Dr Bronner have tackled the issue of sustainable palm oil.  They have taken the bull by the horns and come up with a solution that spreads the good far and wide.

However,  I do have my doubts about how this supply chain would work when scaled up.  When I’m formulating (cooking up) cosmetic creations I often find that what works in the lab needs severe tweaking when scaled to factory size.   This can be for many reasons not least financial (the costs of rapidly cooling a large batch, the time and labor costs involved in manufacturing a product with several fiddly phases, the difficulty in colour matching a shear sensitive blend).  This scale-up problem is also seen in life,  what worked to calm and correct my two-year old kids behaviour would be devastatingly ineffective and embarrassing for a pre-teen. Bottom line is that what works for small doesn’t always work for large.

That’s not to say that I give up and wash my hands of the problems that commoditized palm faces, I do not.  The ‘problems’ faced at the top need to be addressed and as with life,  kids can teach us cynical adults a thing or two due to their fresh eyes, boundless enthusiasm and open questioning.

The main issue I see is with cost.  Palm is not just something that goes into expensive soaps (Dr Bronners products are great but they are not something that everyone can afford – a Bronner bar of soap can cost around $10 whereas you can get a commodity bar for less than $0.30.   This may be a good example of us not placing enough value on resources and may in turn be a trigger […]