If you can remember the ecological tragedy that was the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, perhaps you remember the onslaught of Dawn Dish Soap commercials. These commercials had images of adorable ducklings, pelicans, and sea lions all being washed with Dawn dish soap after being exposed to the oil slick covering much of the gulf. The tagline was “Dawn Helps Save Wildlife”.
How true is that, really? At the time I remember switching over from my cheap, store-brand dish soap and picking up a couple bottles of Dawn. After all, the bottle claimed to donate soap to bird rescues in the Gulf area to clean the bird’s feathers of spilled oil.
Recently I found out that you actually had to go online and register the bottle you bought for Dawn to actually donate everything – a point Dawn made sure not to make evident to their thousands of consumers. I’m sure that legally the details of their promotion was somewhere on the bottle, probably underneath the ingredient list and teeny, tiny print. But most people, including myself, never looked farther than the baby ducks on the front of the bottle.
Annoyed at this, I decided to do a bit more research into Dawn’s claims of ‘saving the world’. And, actually, Dawn contains a chemical called Tricoslan, which according to the Environmental Working Group is toxic to some aquatic wildlife. The soap that claims to help these animals may be doing more harm than good.
Plus, many volunteers wonder what difference washing and releasing these birds and other animals will make in the long run. In 1971 two oil tankers collided in the San Francisco Bay, resulting in 7,000 birds covered in oil. After volunteers cleaned these birds, all but 300 died anyway.
Jay Holcomb, the executive director of the bird rescue research center, says “It is impossible to estimate how many of the birds will survive when returned to the wild”.
Plus, every bottle of dawn is sold in plastic bottles which are horrible for the environment. If the solution was more concentrated then less bottles could be sold – but that would be a bad business decision for Dawn. Or, a bad business decision for Proctor and Gamble, Dawn’s parent company. Oh, and did you know that P&G practices animal testing on their products?
When you look at the evidence, “Dawn Saves Wildlife” is little more than a slogan, and not a fact.
- Jennifer Brees