Friday, March 8, 2013

Small change, world changers & life changing

I keep coming across projects that use big and small ideas to create change in the world. I'm captivated by them, by the people who think of them and the people who take the ideas and turn them into a reality that changes lives. Most of them seem to take nothing or something small or something that unused or unwanted and turn it into something with value.

The first is the Global Soap Project, which collects used bars of soaps from hotels, which would have otherwise been thrown away, and recycles them into new bars that are then distributed to people and places that need them: disaster victims, refugees, people in extreme poverty. The stats (from their website): 2 million bars of soap are discarded from hotels in the US alone every day; 2.4 million children die each year from hygiene-related illnesses; washing hands can reduce morbidity rates by as much as 47% (around 1.1 million children); GSP collects soap from 1000 US hotels and produces 30,000 new bars of soap each week. Simple idea: taking used soap and making new soap. World changing idea: distributing that soap wherever hygiene-related illnesses like diarrhea are prevalent. Recycled soap = reduction in preventable deaths. It's not a glamorous idea, by any means, but what a difference a bar of soap can make.

The other project I came across recently is Who Made Your Pants? They're essentially a lingerie company or in their words a 'campaigning brand'. So it's undies with a twist. They make their cute knickers with fabrics left over from major factories at the end of the season, which might have otherwise been chucked away, in a little factory in Southampton in the UK whose workers are all women who've struggled to find a job, who are refugees or who've just generally having a rough time. Rather than spending a fortune or fancy-pants that are often made in sweatshops in third world countries, spending your hard earning money on these lovelies helps empower these women. All the profits are churned back into the business, into training and support and advice as well as a decent wage for a decent day's work in a decent factory environment.

The are a few others as well, including Jessica Alba's The Honest Company, which seems to pop up in everything I read these days, although that's a regular old company with a nice premise rather than a charity. I feel inspired when I see these types of projects underway in the world. But inspiration is a funny beast - it's not specific ideas magically appearing in my head, just an urge, a desire, an impulse to do 'something'. It'll sit there, with so many other unspecific urges to do 'something', until the right confluence of events and people and former ideas and whatever else makes a 'new' idea, and 'something' becomes one thing. One small thing that I can do to make big things happen.

Have you come across any little/big ideas lately?

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