Shell Game: The Hidden Gifts of Natural Products
One of the biggest challenges in marketing Seventh Generation products is telling the story of their many benefits. Because where a lot of that story is concerned, you can't really see the reasons why they're the best idea around. In fact, unlike many products, including the competition's, some of the biggest things our products do are the things they don't do.
When, for example, you use our non-toxic all-purpose cleaner, you won't get your hormones scrambled. When you use our unbleached paper towels, you're not dumping intensely hazardous papermaking byproducts into rivers and streams. When you use our dishwasher detergent, nearby lakes and ponds won't fill with phosphates.
These are all important things, but you can't see them because they'll never be there to be seen. They're notable only for their absence. You're not getting sick from dangerous chemicals. You're not contributing to chlorine pollution. You're not creating murderous algae blooms. All great things, but a bit of a conundrum from a marketing perspective because "not doing" can be a tough sell, especially when it's simply preserving the status quo to keep everything the same as it ever was. Yet these are nonetheless important points to try and convey. And now it looks like we can add another one to the mix: When you use our liquid laundry detergents, you're not devastating lobster populations.
A Woods Hole scientist believes he's found a link between the alkylphenols used in conventional laundry liquids and other products, and the mysterious rash of lobster die-offs that have been occurring up and down the east coast. Here's the Cliff Notes version of the tale: People rinse products containing alkylphenols down their drains. The chemicals make their way to the seafloor where a lack of oxygen prevents them from biodegrading. Lobsters absorb them from food or by walking in contaminated sediment. And then they somehow mess with proper shell development, which comes as no surprise given that alkylphenols mimic hormones and interfere with growth and development.
There's some more investigation to be done, but I won't be surprised when it confirms these suspicions to provide a classic example of how so very many of the things that we do or don't do in this world are so very often difficult if not impossible to see. It's a key moral to humanity's story in the 21st century and one we will be wise to remember: just because we can't see something doesn't mean it's not there and that we shouldn't be making the invisible changes needed to make a difference.