18 March 2014

Detergent saves wildlife!

Kelly Pan writes:*

I went to a supermarket planned to buy some household cleaning products last week. When I was wandering around the aisle where carries different brands of detergents, one particular dish soap brand caught my eyes. The reason was this brand (company) "helps wildlife". I remember I have seen a TV commercial shows it helps to clean marine birds which have been exposed to oil spills. As we have learned earlier, oil spills can have some serious negative impacts on marine ecosystem.

The advertisement makes consumers to buy their products, not only because the soap cleans dishes but also it is good for the environment by protecting marine birds. The price we paid is not only for the product itself; we can also help the environment and the animals. The company can make more money by donating part of its profits.

Bottom Line: Companies should not only concern about profits, they also need to develop more products which can help our environment and ecosystem.

* These guest posts are from students in my resource economics class at Simon Fraser University. Please leave feedback on their logic, ideas and style and suggestions of how to improve.


  1. I, too, often willing to buy products if I see advertisement stating “helps XXX” or “XXX friendly”. By doing so, I know I am creating positive externalities to someone or something while doing grocery shopping. How awesome! However, after a while, it got me start to think. Even though it says on the advertisement that the company is going to donate part of their profit to a certain organization, how do we know if they have really fulfilled their commitment? Are there some organizations that monitor these sort of activity just to make sure they did donate part of their profit? If the company didn’t live up to their promise. Would it count as false advertising, a scheme or a crime?

  2. The first impression gets to me when I see advertisement like this is that the producer is using marketing strategy to promote something that is actually toxic as something environmental friendly. Imagine how many consumers have been manipulated by these kind of advertisement. The message the product trying to convey sometimes can be very misleading to the public and result in negative consequences. It creates false incentive for consumers to purchase. I used to complain to my mom about how the dishes she wash were not clean enough. My mom once said something back: "do you prefer to eat microorganism or toxic chemical residual that its half life lasts longer than your life?" I believe this is somewhat similar to the famous "bottled water" case in which the producers of bottled water create demand for consumers to buy bottled water. So called created demand. Think about the negative externalities such products would generate: water waste with chemicals. If the waste water is not properly treated especially in developing countries, it could end up an environmental disaster. As for myself, I would always think twice before I make any purchasing decision especially when I see advertisement like this.

  3. First of all, thanks guys for leaving the comments to me.
    And I have doubted if those companies are telling the truth about donating money to save animals or to support hospitals, etc. But I think there must be some sort of agency or institution to monitor them. The question is how much money will be ended up in those organization's pockets. People may use those money for personal interests. Moreover, although they are helping animals by donating money, but still the containers are made of plastic and the product itself still contains chemicals and so on. I don't think there are any products on the market that are truly good for the environment. It is just a method of promoting their products, but it is better than donating nothing.

  4. Back in 1983 I spent many thousands of dollars trying to find the best surfactant for crude oil and I did. It was Dawn Dish soap. When the Valdez accident occurred I notified Texaco and Greenpeace, only to be ignored.

    It seems that Greenpeace would not get "donations" if they were saving the animals...


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