Market Opportunity for All Y’all: Just a quick one. Lunch time at work and this crossed my mind again. Way back in the day when I was in Guatemala, the women would wash their clothes at the pila, or big public washing areas, or in local streams. It often consisted of wringing and beating the clothes against rocks or rubbing them on good old washboard type surfaces. The soap was this big old solid chunk that you rubbed on and then rinsed off. Then you’d lay the clothes out to dry in the sun. It was a pretty intense process, hence I always had one of the neighbor girls do my laundry (Dora the Lavadora) and I’d pay her a handsome ransom. A lot of the runoff water ended up back on the ground or just flowed into local streams.
I got to thinking about the problems we have with the phosphates in soap causing algal blooms and contaminating our water. How much more so would that be where people are washing their clothes directly in the streams? In the back of my mind I always thought that it would be a good idea to introduce a cheap, organic soap that people could use instead of the chemical-laden crap that is foisted up on them from the local general store.
Now me likes me some Doc Bronner’s soap. The lingering tingle of their peppermint soap makes me look forward to each morning shower. Plus it’s all Fair Trade and Organic and really effective. And you can spend an hour in the shower reading their label (which is a waste of water, sorry).
So I wrote them a letter suggesting that they start breaching the international market of clothes washers in developing countries where water treatment facilities are non-existent and they could have more impact. They wrote back saying their having trouble keeping up with demand in developed countries, but that they help out nonprofit groups where they can.
So here it is folks! Your tremendous opportunity to get into the world of soaps in developing countries! It doesn’t look like Doc Bronner’s will be getting up to the Guatemalan highlands anytime soon.