Innovation That Matters

Symbolic soaps raise funds for oil-spill cleanup operation

Nonprofit & Social Cause

Although the BP oil spill in the Gulf last year may have now slipped from the media spotlight, preservationists are still working to clean many of the birds affected by the disaster. In order to raise money for the cause, Louisiana-based MATTER’s first initiative BirdProject is now selling symbolic soaps to help fund the rescue operation. When designer Tippy Tippens surpassed her Kickstarter goal of USD 2,500 by USD 3419 in November last year, she teamed up with Emily Manger David, a third generation soap maker from Sweet Olive Soaps, to produce the soaps. For ingredients they use glycerin — supplied by Operation Reach, a community-based non-profit and biodiesel manufacturer that teaches youth how to produce biodiesel — fair trade olive oil, aloe, and activated black charcoal. As the soaps are entirely manufactured in Louisiana, a cypress scent is added to evoke the fragrances of the Louisiana Bayous. What makes the soap unique, however, is that as it is used, it gradually wears down to reveal a white ceramic bird inside — crafted by ninth grade students from Hao-Peng Liao’s Stretching Sky Arts Laboratory. Tippy’s Kickstarter video explains the project in more detail: The soaps retail at USD 24.00, and additional products have already been added to the range, such as wash cloths and note cards. Fifty percent of the profits are donated to the Gulf Restoration network and International Bird Rescue, with the remaining fifty percent used to provide funding for follow up products and raising awareness for wetland restoration. Symbolically, the soaps represent the washing of a bird whilst simultaneously linking that process to human activity as they wash themselves. A further function of the design is that it has helped raise awareness for a rescue operation at a time when many feel swamped by calls to give to worthy causes. Those trying to achieve similar goals, time to start thinking creatively!



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