COVID-19, Orlando, Social Innovation

Clean The World - Fighting COVID-19 one bar of soap at a time!

The challenge:

People touch their faces around 90 times a day. That habit wasn’t a problem before the coronavirus, but since touching your face is the best way to infect yourself if the virus is on your hands, our simplest and highly effective defense is to wash them.

The solution:

Clean the World’s T-shirt, which reads: WASH YOUR HANDS, BRO. For each one sold, Clean the World gives 10 bars of soap to people in need.

Plus, the message inspires anyone who sees it to consider the last time they washed their hands—helping to create a new, healthy habit of hand-washing to combat the other not-so-healthy one of constantly touching our faces.

Clean The World, based in Orlando, Florida, and a featured organization in INNOVATE® Orlando, has had hygiene on its mind since its inception eleven years ago, when founder Shawn Siepler began to wonder, What happens to all those bars of soap after you check out of a hotel?

Siepler didn’t love the answer: they got thrown away. He especially didn’t love the answer because 2 million bars of soap were being tossed per day in the U.S. alone.

Clean the World was formed to recycle the hospitality industry’s discarded soap and bottled amenities, then redirect them to places in need throughout the world. So far, Clean the World has kept over 14.8 million tons of hotel waste out of landfills in North America, having provided 40 million bars of soap to families in 118 countries around the world.

Handwashing is one of the simplest and most effective tools against disease spread. Illnesses like pneumonia, cholera, and dysentery can be prevented by up to 65% with regular handwashing. COVID-19, whose outer wall is made of lipids (fatty tissues), is literally ripped apart when it comes into contact with soap, which destroys its outer layer.

Clean the World knows that education is key in conjunction with the soap it provides to families in need—whether through its regular programs or its WASH YOUR HANDS, BRO campaign. That’s why the organization provides after-school programs and summer camps to teach children and families how and when to properly wash their hands. Clean the World’s recycling program has also become industry-standard in hospitality, providing hotels with a straightforward way to fulfill their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

 

Takeaway:

A lot of hygiene-related products and services were taken for granted before the COVID-19 pandemic. But with more people in need than ever—22 million Americans alone have filed for unemployment—the ability to purchase (let alone stock up on) essential goods has disappeared for many families. For others, that privilege never existed.

Organizations like Clean the World will play a key role in distributing essentials like soap to the communities that need them most. If COVID-19 has taught us nothing else, it’s that we’re all connected. It’s becoming more difficult to say that we’re healthy when the entire world is not healthy.

Buying into a campaign like WASH YOUR HANDS, BRO is a great way to allay that misplaced guilt about not doing enough to help others. To purchase a shirt is as simple and effective a way to help others as washing your hands is to disinfect them.

The comedy of the messaging doesn’t hurt either. Wearing a WASH YOUR HANDS, BRO T-shirt is just the right combination of yelling at “covidiots” and keeping a sense of humor amid these strange times.

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