The Sad Irony of Using Dawn to Clean Oiled Birds

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Volunteer uses Dawn Liquid to clean a rescued bird
An oiled gannet is cleaned at the Theodore Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center June 17, 2010.

 Deepwater Horizon Response / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

If you search the Internet for "Dawn dish soap", the second link that pops up on Google is for a page on their website titled "Dawn Saving Wildlife: Oil Spill Clean Up". A visit to their main website turns up a prominent link titled "Dawn Saves Wildlife". The Washington Post just wrote a story about how Dawn is the go-to soap for workers cleaning up oil-covered birds. The dish soap is gentle enough to not sting the eyes of the animals being cleaned and has been used since the '70s.

Procter & Gamble sent 7,000 bottles of Dawn to the Gulf of Mexico to help clean up birds covered in BP's oil. Dawn has capitalized on this PR goldmine and runs commercials and social media campaigns highlighting the cleanup.

The sad irony of the whole thing is that Dawn is petroleum-based. Every bottle of Dawn used to clean a bird actually adds to our nation's demand for oil. Not only are we using an oil-based product to clean oiled birds, but we're increasing the incentives for companies to drill for more oil, making it more likely that there will be another spill. Which, incidentally, will be great for Dawn's marketing.

It's one big beautifully incestuous circle.

Ben Busy-Collins, founder and CEO of Ballard Organics Soap Co., thinks we need to break that circle and recently sent 1,000 bottles of Ballard's plant-based cleaners to animal rescue groups around the Gulf of Mexico.

Me, I'm a Seventh Generation guy.