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This probiotic soap doesn’t pollute rivers it gets into—it helps clean them

In parts of Peru, it’s still common to wash laundry in rivers and streams, both because of tradition and because millions of people don’t have running water at home. Using laundry soap can pollute the same water that people also rely on for drinking, cooking, or bathing. But a new kind of probiotic soap was designed to help clean the water instead.

“The idea is very simple: take advantage of the Andean cultural heritage of washing their clothes in the rivers, so the rivers can be cleaned,” says Ricardo Chadwick, partner and creative director at the creative agency Fahrenheit DDB, which partnered on the project with Andea, a bottled water company, and a Peruvian startup called Cirsys.

The partners spent two years developing a solution—a bar soap that contains microorganisms that can remove pollution. “This microorganism . . . feeds itself from the pollution of the river, reducing drastically the levels of nitrate and ammoniac, the type responsible for spreading bacteria that affect humans,” Chadwick says. “These microorganisms are freed when the bar of soap is used, and they get attached to the rocks and river weeds, staying there even after the washing ritual.”

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