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Druide--Making magic?

Not another Anita Roddick...
Let me start this post with a little history. I'm always on the lookout for natural, chemical-free, anti-animal testing alternatives to modern cosmetics. BUT, as a journalist, I'm terrified of championing a company after the big Body Shop scandal. I would hate to find out that Alain Renaud was just another Anita Roddick, so my bull*4%^ meter was set on 'high' when I walked into the tiny Pointe Claire facility that is Druide.

Mmm... smells good.

My first impression of the company was quite pleasant. Alain Renaud himself came to greet me at the door-- no lackey, no press attache. That's rare. Also, the guy has almost eerily soft hands (so if he's using his own lotions, they work!).
Throughout the interview, Renaud answered my questions directly and I didn't really get the feeling ever that I was being spun. In fact, that clip that I got about how Druide opened up a soap factory in Afghanistan (so locals can now buy local) was totally by chance. He told it to me en passant. I actually had to re-mike him and get him to say it on tape. Not usual behaviour for someone who should be on 'rabid self promotion' mode (as most companywallahs usually are when they see a big ol' TV camera.

But the most interesting part...

...was the tour I took unaccompanied. Here's what I noticed:
1. Their drinking water (filtered) comes from their own plant. The reverse osmosis required in the production process gives them fresh, clean water that the employees then drink instead of wasting.
2. They have recycling bins all over the place. And they actually sort their plastic, cans, paper, aluminium and compost.
3. They compost. This is awesome for a company that produces so much natural, organic waste. Yay!
4. They have energy efficient lighting in their washrooms like we have here at the Ceeb (lights automatically switch off when motion sensors sense that Elvis has left the building).
5. Toilet paper is Cascades (100% recycled)/
6. Most of the packing boxes (in which products are shipped) had other companies' logos on them. So definitely a case of re-using.
7. Employees eat meals together and seem generally happy and well adjusted. Plus there are posters all over with exercises and employee-welfare information (numbers to call if they're sick/unhappy/need help). I realise this could be an act for the camera, but it felt pretty authentic.

The best things in life are...
.. well certainly a little pricier than the average phthalate and paraben-loaded bottle of bubbles at the drugstore.
So, here are some prices:
1 litre economy sized shampoo: Between $27 and $33 plus tax (depends where you buy--my health food store sells it cheaper than the online price)
360ml Fragrance-free shower gel $10 plus tax
Soap $5.49
(By the way, the soap covers are printed with vegetable ink for easier and non-toxic composting and they even make a little well on the top of the soap so you can glom on your old soap scrap. Love that attention to detail!) Is it worth nearly 6 bucks though?
You decide. Write me!


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Comments (5)

Melissa

Montreal

I will absolutely pay more for all natural and/or organic products. I use products such as Druide, Alba, Burt's Bees, Ecco Bella, Nature's Gate, Desert Essence, etc. I find I use a smaller amount of the product (soap, shampoo, lotion) as compared to its non-natural counter parts. I wash my long hair daily and have used my 350 ml bottle of Alba shampoo for months now. Therefore, the cost balances (may even be cheaper) considering how little of the product you need. Regardless, the environment and my well being are worth it.

Posted March 17, 2008 07:02 PM

André

Montreal

How much is your health really worth? Like organic whole foods, it cost a little more now, but you're not sick later. Ounce of prevention=Pound of cure, remember the adage? In order for other products to be cheaper they have to use synthesized, artificial often petroleum derived ingredients and preservatives such as Parabens (methyl and polypropyl benzene, watch for it) linked to breast cancer. I look for whole ingredients that I know and understand like cream, bees wax, vege oils and herb and fruit extracts. The source of these ingredients is always a question mark so it's nice to hear Druide is being proactive. I use Druide soaps, skin toner and cream. I like them very much and think the cost is worth the benefit. There is a certain amount of consumer gouging, I believe, by the producers of some of these products, so it's hard to tell if the added cost is justified in higher quality ingredients and production costs or just profit taking and greed. Bottom line is, learn about what you are putting in and on your body (clothing included), be well informed and evaluate what's worth it to you or not in the LONG run.

Posted March 18, 2008 02:18 PM

Philip

Montreal

Dear Geeta,

You are a charming and delightful TV personality so I was embarrassed for you when I your "Druide" piece aired. In it you state that (Druide) "offers one of the biggest ranges of natural, chemical-free, certified organic products in the world."

Nonsense! Quite simply there is nothing on this planet that is chemical-free – so "natural and chemical-free" part the statement is absurd.

As for "certified organic products" – at best this means that they are produced from organic chemcials – some organic are safe – some are toxic. Just remeber that all those moldy bits of food in your fridge can be "certified organic".

Clearly you mean well, but as a responsible journalist you have do your homework so that you can tell your audience the real story. A good place to start with the real story about "chemical stuff" would be Dr. Joe Schwarcz.

Good luck

Posted March 24, 2008 03:15 PM

Geeta Nadkarni

Montreal

Hi, I just wanted to reply the earlier comment from Philip in Montreal. Philip, I appreciate your taking the time, and indeed I stand corrected in my use of the word "chemical" when what I probably should have used is "synthetic". But, I would like to point out that what you have assumed to be the meaning of the word "organic" isn't how it's used in this particular case. The way you're using it is perfectly valid and quite commonplace--the way we speak of "organic waste" which we put in the compost. But when we say "certified organic", that's a little different. EcoCert, which is the certifying body for the purposes of my piece on Druide uses lots of different criteria about how the raw materials are grown, harvested and used. There's a PDF document that you can download with all the checks and balances that EcoCert demands.

All this just to say that I AGREE with you that just because something is naturally derived or herbal doesn't make it safe. Belladonna and arsenic are both natural and both potentially toxic, BUT products like Druide and Lemiux are produced in a way that is in harmony with nature and designed to have a positive (or at least neutral) impact on both the ecology and the human body. Synthetic chemicals are often (but not always) questionable and dare I say harmful in their methods of creation, testing and use. And certainly we don't know enough about many of them to certify them 'safe'.
Please do write in and continue this conversation-- and tell me more about Dr. Schwarcz and what sort of story you have in mind.
Thanks!
Geeta

Posted March 24, 2008 04:36 PM

Chris

Montreal

Sorry to burst your bubble, but Druide includes lots of synthetic chemicals in their products. Anybody that reads the labels can see this. If you want real organic body care that doesn't have anything bad in it then try Pangea and Suki and Aubrey. Lilou Organics is a web shop in Canada that sells these. However, it's not cheap---about the same price as top-of-the-line synthetic skin care---but you get your money's worth in product instead of advertising, mass availability, and fancy packaging.

A lawsuit was recently filed against EcoCert for not being a reliable standard... Google "ecocert lawsuit".

Chris

Posted May 15, 2008 02:03 AM

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