Being a tradition inherited from the Incas, washing clothes in the rivers continues to be part of Peru’s cultural heritage. Besides getting their clothes clean, this habit also represents a moment during which women of the villages get to relax or socialize. This is a time when they can talk about intimate issues with each other and comment on personal or family problems. Sadly, this ancestral tradition comes with a downside: The soap bar which people use to clean their clothes ends up spilling into the water, eventually contaminating it.
The biggest problem is that these rivers are the main source of life for these people, as they use the water to drink, wash their food, and it is the place where kids play. This means that the water they use to drink is impure, villagers being vulnerable to developing various diseases or stomach infections.
There are millions of people who depend on untreated water — such as rivers, lakes, ponds, or streams — which is why the importance of keeping water sources clean is vital. Agua ANDEA joined forces with agency Fahrenheit DDB and launched the “AWA Project,” introducing a laundry soap in their mission to help such people improve water quality without jeopardizing the centuries-old tradition.
Many communities and towns are distributed along the rivers. As people have this habit of washing their clothes in the rivers, the contamination is exponential because it is the same water that flows with the current of the river. This made people at ANDEA ask themselves: “Why not use this widespread habit to our advantage? What if instead of polluting, they could help us systematically clean the rivers?”
The company thought of introducing a decontaminating element in this process and the soap bar seemed to be the perfect tool. “At ANDEA we realized that by intervening the soap bars we could turn this polluting ancestral custom into precisely the opposite: A systematic and autonomous decontamination network,” continues the brand.
After two years of investigation, ANDEA, together with a team of engineers, chemists, and biologists (Cirsys), found a unique microorganism with a probiotic function, capable of using pollutants of the river to feed itself. The laundry soap was then equipped with these tiny organisms, the team intervening in the soap formula to make it environmentally friendly so that the soap can hold the probiotics in its composition without damaging them or reducing their effectiveness. Several tests were needed but, in the end, they were able to transform a laundry soap into one that has the power to decontaminate river water.
According to the company, when the washing process happens, the soap releases particles that fall into the water. Thanks to the soap’s formula, these then adhere to the stones and algae in the river, helping decontaminate the water even moments after the washing.
The campaign is supported by a video that encourages governments and industries to provide help for more people using this method. They can request the formula of the AWA soap by filling in a form listed on the website dedicated to the initiative.
Client: Agua ANDEA
Agency: Fahrenheit DDB
Campaign: AWA Project