Excited to starting the Bathing Culture series on being an activist company, to me this story will aways be evolving, but it was great to be able to be able to post this writeup to Medium!
Here it is in it's entirety!
Starting a business may seem like an inauspicious way to try and improve the world, but hear me out. Given present economic conditions, businesses have the means to enact profound positive change — especially with regards to the environmental crisis.
The majority of everyday products we use and that fill our homes and offices have environmental consequences for personal and global health. Items that make up much of our world like furniture, electronics, soap and clothing are typically made and disposed of in ways that create significant environmental and human harm. This doesn’t need to be the case — there are sustainable, healthy alternatives to just about every harmful product currently on the market.
Given the choice, no one wants to live in an trash heap, visit lakes full of dead fish, get sick from smog, let oceans become poisonously acidic, or see thousands die from heat stroke– let alone leave this as their legacy to the next generations. Yet, this is increasingly becoming our reality, and it can be harder to see then we’d expect. Plastics, chemicals and toxins now permeate our world, even the Marina Trench is full of plastic. Common pollution is everywhere, but mostly inconspicuous, floating in our air, water and in the land.
Pollution is making us sick and creating a whole host of negative ecological, environmental and economic issues.
We know that action needs to be taken, but the scope and nature of the current and impending environmental challenges are not only hard to translate into personal action, but often the scale of the issues (and resultant despair so many of us feel) is paralyzing all by itself. This is where there is a massive opportunity and imperative for business.
This is why, working with my best friend and environmentalist Spencer Arnold, we decided to create environmentally friendly personal care products, an area that — especially for athletes, adventurers and everyday folks — has been left to a few massive conglomerates. For the most part these companies are out of touch with consumers and make products that are bad for the environment, personal health, aren’t authentic, and don’t build community or delightful experiences.
In fact, personal care products are some of the most notoriously and unnecessarily bad for the environment and personal health — and nobody is talking about it.
Bathing Culture was launched to take on this challenge. We believe you should feel good about what you rub on your body to get and stay clean and it shouldn’t hurt the environment or put you at higher risk for diseases like cancer. For us this is common sense.
We decided to start with body wash, an oft-overlooked category that is one of the most ubiquitous daily products used by volume and has a host of unnecessary environmental and health problems. Upstream it’s mostly produced using crude oil derivatives or unsustainable tropical natural oils, long term use of the common ingredients found in most body washes has been linked to serious health issues, and once those chemicals wash down the drain, their lack of biodegradability has significant downstream consequences.
After working with industry experts, tracking down sustainable sources and practices, and formulating hundreds of batches, we were close, but we needed to dive deeper. To ensure our daily cleanser stands up to the most active and demanding people and all body types, we formed a radical bathing club who have literally done the dirty work. Backcountry adventures, epic bike rides, hot spring hootenannies, art installations, and underground parties have all been part of the process to make sure Bathing Culture will hold up and be able to address every extreme.
Creating amazing healthy products that are great for the environment isn’t always easy, they must match or surpass the performance of existing products; development, ingredients and production is often more expensive. It takes time to understand the history and future impact of ingredients and packaging. Scaling up can be more complicated. Thankfully, we’re not alone in our quest — there are thousands of companies that are orienting themselves to create great products that don’t cause environmental harm, the more who join the movement, the easier it will become to start, scale, and proliferate environmentally responsible business.
The development of environmentally responsible businesses is currently one of the best developments for the environment, however there is a lot of work to do. To mitigate ongoing and impending man made mass extinction,pollution and climate change-related environmental crises we need to move faster in our transition off of harmful products and there needs to be greater awareness of the collective stakes.
When pollution goes into the air it has the power to make people around the world sick, in fact a World Bank report found that it’s causing 1 in 10 deaths,this pollution is currently increasing exponentially. It’s also remaking our climate, another World Bank report found that,
“we’re on track for a 4°C warmer world marked by extreme heat waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity and life- threatening sea level rise.”
The report concludes,
“…there is also no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible.”
If we maintain our current behavior, people born today will live in a world that surpasses the 4°C degree mark, this will have cataclysmic consequences.
The environmental crisis is already one of the biggest threats to our economy and safety, the pentagon has deemed climate change a threat multiplier, it is partly to blame for conditions of drought and and scarcity that ignited instability in the middle east, and is protracting these conflicts .
With almost no regulation and practically any ingredients permissible, many everyday products contain substances that have been linked to cancer, reproductive health risks, and neurological damage. This includes many of the products you’ll likely find in your shower. On a global scale, the spread of virus like Zika and other diseases can in large part be attributed to changing climate.
Millions of jobs are at stake, fisheries are collapsing, real estate is threatened by drought, fire, and flood like never before. The economic cost of inaction on the changing climate alone is on pace to hit $44 trillion GDP by 2040.
From an ecological perspective the situation is just as bad. Habitats are disappearing, putting according to one while researched, through perhaps somewhat hyperbolic report a staggering two thirds of species we share the world with at risk for extinction by 2020. That’s in the next three years. By 2050 it’s projected that there will be more plastic in the ocean then fish.Deforestation is accelerating, and as it goes we may also be losing important innovations and cures to diseases.
Spencer and I feel this urgency — it’s why we founded Bathing Culture as an activist company.
While there isn’t a good definition of an activist company, we’re changing that. We aim to have a voice on these critical issues, to help people make everyday decisions that have a positive impact on the environment and personal health. Working with transparency, and always improving, all of our decisions are made through the lens of environmentalism.
We’re excited to be part of a movement with companies like Patagonia, Method, Reformation and many others that will continue to redefine how businesses can be responsible actors in society. Perhaps by the time we’re passing the baton we’ll have another way to refer to organizations that use good means to create necessary goods and services that do no harm.
We know what needs to happen to start getting our environment on tract and keep our friends and community as healthy as we can, transforming how businesses operate it isn’t going to be easy and it can’t be an isolated movement. Luckily, we’ve got just thing to start cleaning up this mess. Now we just need everyone to join us!