Soap and Species Solidarity
Under the banner, “Dawn Saves Wildlife,” Dawn dish soap has for decades been advertised as the weapon of choice for those working to assist free-living animals who have harmed by oil spills. Commercials which promote this project frequently depict precious little ducklings and squat penguins wiggling clean and free out of a foamy Dawn bath back into nature.
The scheme has become foundational to Dawn’s brand image over the decades. For instance, these nonhuman survivors are often featured on dish soap bottles, and Dawn also hosts a website specifically designed to promote its work with free-living animals. In the past, it has donated at least a million dollars toward wildlife rescue efforts.
Dawn soap saves animals in removing deadly oil and chemicals from industrial accidents, the Dawn company saves animals by funding conservation, and the warm-hearted customer saves animals in purchasing Dawn products.
But a critical vegan analysis unravels this corporate greenwashing for what it is: a scheme to increase sales which is based on the systematic oppression of many species, both domesticated and free-living.
What’s in a Bottle?
Most mainstream detergents are based in slaughterhouse renderings. Commercial soaps, Dawn included, are produced from the fat of pigs, cows, chickens, or other species who meet gruesome ends in abattoirs.
Dawn is also a product of Procter & Gamble, a corporation which has maintained its commitment to outdated and violent Nonhuman Animal testing in the face of decades of protest from the Nonhuman Animal rights movement.
Furthermore, commercial detergents like Dawn which are flushed down millions of drains across the United States pose a direct risk to free-living species whose habitats are disrupted by algae blooms, fragrances, anti-bacterial agents, and other additives.
Veganism vs. Greenwashing
Thus, Dawn products are predicated on the torture and killing of all manner of Nonhuman Animals, while the suffering of free-living animals harmed by industrial disasters is cruelly exploited to promote the brand. Dawn’s approach is typical of corporate greenwashing in its attempt to add marketable value by appealing to societal interest sustainability and species solidarity. Ultimately, however, Dawn’s effort is vacuous.
Products that are not vegan and do not work harmoniously with the environment undermine the wellbeing of Nonhuman Animals. Fortunately, vegan alternatives are becoming increasingly easy to find and comparable in cost. Some folks even make their own washing up liquid to reduce their consumption of plastic. A variety of recipes to accomplish this are freely available online.
Readers can learn more about critical veganism in my 2016 publication, A Rational Approach to Animal Rights. Receive research updates straight to your inbox by subscribing to my newsletter.