Changing the world, one hand wash at a time
Camilla Marcus-Dew, On Purpose London April 2015 Fellow, works at CLARITY-The Soap Co., a social enterprise that creates employment for blind and disabled people, and writes about their newest range CLARITYeco.
For any social enterprises, it’s important to balance your social mission with the desire to be ethical and sustainable (and remaining profitable!). At CLARITY, our mission and reason for existence is to create employment for blind and disabled people, and this hasn’t changed since 1854.
Every penny of profit can therefore be spent on hiring as many people as possible, each with their own individual needs and ‘barriers to work’, giving everyone a chance to get going in their professional life.
But, as many of you do, we also want to do more. We want to buy British and from other social enterprises, use recycled materials and eco ingredients and reduce our energy usage, all of which comes at a financial cost.
There is a balancing act between our mission and other causes to support and issues to fight. Should we try and cut all other costs so we can maximise social value or be ethical in a broader sense knowing that we will have to take a hit on being able to provide everything we want for our staff? As an individual, I think we need to think systemically to solve these challenges, but I am sometimes conflicted, and it isn’t always easy to balance.
However, on occasions there are opportunities to meet both your organisation’s mission and broader societal objectives at the same time. Producing an eco-friendly foaming hand wash is one of them!
For months, we have been working with the Cabinet Office and Interserve, a large facilities management firm to develop our new Honey Blossom Eco Foaming Hand Wash, as many big businesses see the benefit of combining social and eco! It uses eco-certified ingredients, is vegan and biodegradable and is allergen, gluten, GMO, SLS, and paraben-free. (TL;DR — it’s full of good stuff and without the nasties!)
Foaming soap uses just 20% of the dosage compared to liquid hand wash so a bottle will last five times as long — which also means less carbon miles as less soap is shipped around. It reduces the amount of water used by almost 10% whilst increasing the likelihood that individuals will wash their hands; promoting good hand hygiene.
It was hot off the production line just one month ago and the Cabinet Office and Camden Market have already placed orders. We expect several other large corporations, government departments and Buy Social Corporate Challenge partners to also get on board with our ‘bulk fill soap’. We are also looking to take this product into national supermarkets in the future in a lovely little bottle co-designed with UAL students.
We’re really excited about CLARITYeco and the chance to help others on the journey to being more environmentally friendly and support disability employment, all whilst getting an awesome product that embraces the circular economy.
Moving forward, the lessons we’ve learnt in procurement and product testing will help us expand our eco range and improve our environmental credentials. We’ve got more to do but by creating eco products to employ blind and disabled people, we’re certainly moving in the right direction.
We’d love to hear your views on balancing your social mission and wider concerns and how your social enterprise tries to tackle it.
The change really happens when people who read this blog take action and email email@example.com — time to start ordering products for your office…?