Deodorant, Autism, and Green Businesses

Blogger Jenn at the Green Phonebooth wrote a very kind and complimentary piece about a small company called The Duggan Sisters. She mentioned a deodorant they make that is greener and better for your health. Jenn praised the product but mentioned that the price of $27 seemed too high for a deodorant that only had 3 ingredients. In response, the company’s owner published a mile-long piece that is the strangest communication from any business owner I have ever seen. I put some parts of it in a PowerPoint slide for you. On the left, you see an excerpt from Jenn’s post that you can find here. On the right, you can see small excerpts from Mary Duggan’s report that can be read in its entirety here.

There is a lot more in the response which is very long, detailed, and aggressive.

The reason why I’m publishing this post is not just that I like Jenn and feel surprised that she got attacked in return for writing a very kind post about a small business. What bothers me is that alternative medicine and green lifestyles often get undermined by being presented in a way they were in Duggan’s response. There are many assertions for which no sources are ever cited. There is even what I interpret as a suggestion that some link exists between autism and deodorant (as a Soviet autistic child of another Soviet autistic, I’m kind of stunned by something like this). Here is the quote in question:

My sister Annie and I applaud folks who want to make their own deodorant or soap or candles or lotions. However, we have been working with thousands of busy mommies and daddies for the past decade and we find that few of them have any desire to return to Little House on the Prairie skill sets. More often, they hound us for solutions and guidance in dealing with their children’s autism, learning disabilities, psoriasis, depression, behavioral disorders, explosive diarrhea in the 5thgrade, that sort of thing.

On the company’s website, there is also a suggestion that depression is somehow caused by eating fast food, which is another statement that I find very irresponsible and kind of offensive to the folks who suffer from depression.

I think everybody here has already realized that I’m a very strong believer in seeking non-chemical solutions to health issues. I know people who used natural medicine to cure themselves of very serious diseases. However, placing autism, diarrhea, psoriasis and depression on one list and casually linking these very different issues to “deodorant or soap or candles or lotions” or fast food consumption does not, in my opinion, promote the cause of healthier, greener lifestyles. In any case, Jenn has voiced her objections to Mary Duggan’s response better than I ever could here.

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10 thoughts on “Deodorant, Autism, and Green Businesses”

  1. Aluminum has been a popular scapegoat in the health food store industry; implicated mainly in alzheimer’s disease. And of course “aut-ism” is a plague on technological society; what you get for not doing stuff nature’s way.

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    1. There is so much stuff like that in alternative food and medicine that people just go away in frustration. Who has the time and the energy to sift through mountains of unsubstantiated claims?

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  2. Well, at least I know now to stick to Tom’s of Maine and LUSH and not buy from this company. I’m big on certain aspects of the green lifestyle, and try my best to support small businesses and environmentally aware companies, but if they engage in any autism-bashing, they lose my business.

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    1. That’s how I feel, too. Why can’t people just sell their stuff – which actually sounds quite good – without trying to present it as a cure for everything, including everybody’s favorite bugbear of the day, autism?

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      1. I think they must not realize that there are autistic adults with buying power and blogs of their own, who don’t like the implication that they are broken or sickened by their favourite bête noire, whether it’s vaccines, aluminium, or environmental “toxins”, since autism is so heavily marketed as an “affliction” of children only in North America.

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  3. They could have thanked Jenn effusively for her largely complimentary post and then made a reasonable defense of their pricing, since that is the her only substantive objection. Instead, they come off as bitter, ignorant quacks.

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  4. I used Duggan’s deodorant. It works. I suspected they were at best savvy business women and at worst, profit mongers, but when I ordered a refill package of the powder deodorant from their web store, I realized the latter is the case. I got a PHONE CALL after I placed my order online…I was asked if I had a dispenser can….I said ‘No, I just use a travel size plastic baby powder shaker.’ She indignantly indicated that they could not sell me the refill package UNLESS I ordered the $27+ can dispenser option! She went on to ‘inform’ me as to how the plastic leaches into the powder and is absorbed into the skin. I am sorry, but my bull__it meter went off the chart! I just decided to get some Baking Soda (it’s all aluminum free, by the way-Google it! – more BS from the Duggans…), some essential oil of tea tree and lavender and make my own….works great for about 1/100th the cost. Now, don’t get me wrong…I respect the Duggans for building a successful business on marketing and positioning..but really, promoting fear is not a way to stay on top….just watch…pride and greed bring down companies all the time….

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