- January, 2008
Go on over to the Burt's Bees web site, and you won't see any difference at all from last year. Everything still looks the same. Look at the News section, and there doesn't appear to be anything much going on. Read the section on the history of Burt's Bees, and it appears that the company is pretty much as it always was - the quirky independent company developed by Burt Shavitz and Roxanne Quimby, who started out selling candles from the wax left over from Burt's beekeeping business. My, how quaint.
In the section "our values", the Burt's Bees web site claims that, "We believe companies should be transparent." Why is it then, that the Burt's Bees web site tries so hard to obscure the big change it's decided to make?
It's only if you happen click on the FAQ, and scroll down for a bit that you'll find out about what's happened to Burt's Bees. Those bees are no longer Burt's. Here's the company's statement:
"On October 31, 2007, the Clorox Company announced their intention to buy Burt’s Bees. This pending merger is expected to close in December 2007, at which point we will be part of the Clorox Company's family of products."
The last time I checked, bees and chlorine bleach were not in the same family. They aren't even in the some kingdom of life, or domain of existence. A bee is a living, social animal. Bleach is chemical, never having been alive, and thus not even counting as dead. Bleach is non-life, or to take it a step further, anti-life. Bleach kills life.
So, what does that make Burt's Bees, now that they're owned by Clorox? Killer bees?
It's 2008 now, and that "pending merger" is complete. Burt's Bees is a part of Clorox now, but there isn't anything I can find on the Burt's Bees web site to indicate that change. It's as if the people at Clorox don't really want the people who buy Burt's Bees merchandise to know what happened.
Clorox and Burt's Bees are conceptually connected in this one sense: A beehive is like a corporation, with a whole of worker bees, some lazy mid-level management drones, and a fat CEO at the middle of it all.
And what does John Replogle, the CEO of Burt's Bees, have to say about the purchase of the once socially responsible company to Clorox? "Don't judge Clorox as much by where they've been as much as where they intend to go," says Replogle.
We can judge Clorox plenty by where they are, with a collection of industrial products that are at once chemically harsh for humans and rotten for the environment, and a corporate culture that's not regarded as socially responsible.
But, right now, it's Burt's Bees that merits judgment, for selling out to Clorox. How does Burt's Bees measure up? By John Replogle's own standard, Burt's Bees doesn't come out looking very good.
Don't judge Burt's Bees as much by where they've been as much as where they intend to go. Burt's Bee's have flown straight into a giant vat of bleach. They're Clorox's Bees now.
Burt's Bees still claims that "We list the percent natural on every product label and avoid ingredients with potential risks. What's more, we strive to educate consumers — and the industry — about those potential risks."
Are the people at Burt's Bees going to educate Clorox about the potential risks of what's in their products? Is Burt's Bees really going to be as free to talk openly about the consequences of Clorox's chemistry?
I don't buy it, and I won't buy Burt's Bees anymore either.