Dr. Bronner’s COVID Product Donation Program
During the first two months of 2020, at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic in the U.S., demand for Dr. Bronner’s hand sanitizer and soap skyrocketed. As the company scrambled to ramp up production to fill orders, we heard from long-time allies at Urban Justice’s Safety Net Project in New York City. They shared their experience that sanitizer and soap was an even scarcer resource for the low-income at-risk communities they work with. These crucial hygiene supplies were becoming increasingly unaffordable, or just unavailable period. They wondered if we could help. Shortly after that conversation, I received a call from CNN who wanted to interview someone at Dr. Bronner’s about how the company was managing the increased business demand for hygiene products. When telling our President Mike Bronner about these two inquiries, we quickly agreed that meeting community need was as important to us as meeting business demand.
Dr. Bronner’s Chief Operating Officer, Michael Milam was looped in. He crunched the numbers and soon after suggested that Dr. Bronner’s could reserve 4% of its total hand sanitizer production to donate to nonprofit organizations and efforts supporting high-risk populations. Our CEO David Bronner chimed in immediately and suggested we match the sanitizer reserve one for one with bottles of liquid soap. The project kicked off March 5, 2020–a week before the COVID-19 national emergency was officially declared. Our PR and Shipping teams jumped into action—and we ended up running the program all year and have continued it into 2021.
Throughout 2020, Dr. Bronner’s donated over 100,000 units of hand sanitizer and a nearly equal amount of 4oz. soap to organizations and efforts supporting high-risk populations such as seniors, people experiencing homelessness, frontline workers, and low-income communities. We also donated to food banks, grocery delivery programs to homebound populations, street medics and other activists supporting the George Floyd protests, recently settled refugees, Indigenous communities, criminal justice reform advocates, natural disaster relief efforts, election poll-workers, and San Diego-area first responders. Many of these projects began in the midst of the pandemic, mostly fueled by volunteer labor and run on a shoestring budget, many others were led directly by at-risk communities and center those most impacted by the pandemic.
Like many relief projects that have emerged around the world in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are operating this project in the spirit of mutual aid! Mutual aid is the voluntary giving of resources and services for the benefit of a shared community—a form of social participation in which people take responsibility for caring for one another and changing social conditions through direct action and engagement. We are grateful to be able to share resources with mutual aid efforts around the country, and have been inspired to see hundreds of these projects spring up in the form of community fridges, food distribution programs, and mobile warming spaces, to name a few.
Mutual Aid Donations in 2020—By the Numbers:
- Total Organic Hand Sanitizer units donated by end of 2020: 106,824
- Total units of 4oz. Pure-Castile Liquid Soap donated by end of 2020: 98,316
- Total organizations supported in 2020: 162
- States & locales reached: 35 states in the U.S.+ various locales in Canada