Project Clean Water Helps All

The impact one project has had on the world

IJ Fall Contributors (16-32), Peyton Taylor #27

Between the years 2007 through 2008, over one billion people didn’t have access to clean water. Those numbers may have gone down over the years, but they are still alarmingly high. Unless we, as a race, choose to do something about that, those numbers will begin to increase again.

For 11 years, the Aveda company has dedicated their time and effort to the purification of water. That hard work has made a difference all around the world, impacting thousands of people every single day. This movement goes by the name Project Clean Water. Project Clean Water raised more than $50 million dollars since its creation in 2007 and those numbers won’t stop rising anytime soon. The clean water project works with different organizations and charities to provide safe, clean water for those that don’t have access to it. Their projects range from walks for water, to distributing water filtration systems to families in need of usable water. Charity: Water, an organization focused on providing clean water in different countries, partnered with Aveda in 2018 to aid them in raising more money and awareness for their cause. Together, the two work to clear the path to clean water all over the globe.

Moral values and mission alignment played a big role in the rigorous process of selecting a suitable partner for Aveda’s ever-growing project. Luckily they had someone in their corner fit to take on that challenge, that person went by the name Melissa Chelminiak. Chelminiak was a Mission Director at Aveda who made it her goal to discover the best-suited partner for their project, one that would further benefit the success of Project Clean Water. Part of the reason Aveda was able to connect to so many people was through the help of their generous partners. Over 100 non-profit organizations made the decision to work alongside Aveda throughout the years, and Chelminiak played a key role in choosing who those partners were. Chelminiak was given the opportunity to pair up with these partners as  Aveda arranged an assortment of beneficial campaigns for Project Clean Water, each one deciding how people across the world were impacted. Chelminiak said she knew they were striving for a better future for the world every day. She recognized how important their work was, even with all of its ups and downs.

The opportunities she gained from playing a part in Project Clean Water outnumbered the challenges she might face. During her eleven years at Aveda, six of those with Project Clean Water, Chelminiak experienced being apart of a community that helped “deepen her personal passion in life.” Being a part of the solution that protected the world gave her “A beautiful 360 of everything.” Aveda made it their main goal to ensure access to clean water, including the benefits that came along with it like hygiene or sanitation.

When given an easy path to safe water a large range of opportunities were open to people. Those opportunities were not a guaranteed for them before, but when they were able to focus on something else besides their water needs, the world was their canvas. Chelminiak explained how the lives of the people they impacted changed drastically. Poor health was not an issue because the water they were drinking would no longer cause them to fall ill. Schooling became an option for the children who had to put their education on hold to fetch water for their families every single day. Basic needs, including food security, were finally at their fingertips thanks to Project Clean Water.

Behind the scenes of the project that had changed lives, was the non-profit organization that allowed Aveda to connect to so many people. Charity: Water could be slotted as another of the big reasons this project continues to be so successful. Chelminiak mentioned that Charity: Water expressed their mission through impactful storytelling, illustrating the lives of those that had been impacted. Their objective was to persuade their audience to join alongside them by relating the mission to their target audience. That allowed the public to understand the situation for those without access to clean water. Chelminiak said they do an incredible job at hitting home with each story they tell. “Everyone coming together is the reason this project has had such a huge impact,” Chelminiak said. “People working together as one to make the world a better place is such a powerful movement. It’s a global effort.” In due time, Chelminiak believed everyone would have access to clean water, so they could live the life they deserved. Whether it was helping people understand their mission, or putting together campaign projects, Chelminiak knew she was changing the world one step at a time.

Project Clean Water would not be able to survive with a single hard working member. As dedicated as Chelminiak was, Aveda’s project needed more people boarding the train to the efforts of clean water access around the world. Enter global Marketing Executive Director Rachael Ostrom, an 18 year Project Clean Water member. Ostrom had spent her career at Aveda working with their Earth Month projects, one of those being Project Clean Water. Due to her close proximity to this environmentally friendly project, her life was affected in more ways than you would think. Ostrom explained how she felt it was important to influence those around her so that they could understand the significance of Aveda’s mission. She would advocate to her family the importance of using water responsibly, reserving it in the process. Changes were made in her life, like beginning to use filtered water, not wasting any water they didn’t need, always remembering that water was not unlimited. Whatever situation she was in, whether it was showering, brushing her teeth, getting a drink, washing her hands, Project Clean Water was a constant in her thoughts. Ostrom understood the opportunity she had when it came to having access to clean water every day, which was the main reason she made it her goal to make that a reality for everybody. The success of the project was something Ostrom was notably proud of, because of the massive impact they had already made. Providing families with accessible clean water sources was something that not only affected the lives of thousands of families around the world but Ostrom’s life as well.

Opportunities arose for her, that may not have been a reality had she not been a part of Project Clean Water. A visit to Tilwari, India was among one of those special chances she received. During her days spent in Tilwari, a whole plethora of project opportunities was at her disposal. Each one providing clean water access built infrastructure in the communities they visited. Operations like

constructing water sources, maintaining sanitation within the communities, excluding any ideas that involved polluting existing or new water sources. People from the communities they visited even spoke to Ostrom about how significant Aveda’s actions had been throughout their lives. Each newly spoken word of appreciation fueled Ostrom’s fire of change. Each word of praise gave Project Clean Water more ideas on how to make a bigger difference as time went on. They spoke about how their long walk for water was no longer an issue, how their children couldn’t be more excited to attend school, how women finally got the opportunity to provide for their families through work. Ostrom heard each story of change, each story of how their lives were benefited from Project Clean Water, each story of the impact she had helped make. Clean water was something everybody should have, Aveda was striving towards making that a reality. “It has a bigger impact on world feeling,” Ostrom said.

Though the success of the project was something Ostrom could rest easy on, certain aspects of it were something she would stay awake contemplating. The ability to fully explain the importance of Project Clean Water was an ability Ostrom was mastering every day. Ostrom explained how from time to time it was difficult to explain their mission to consumers, or other companies they were aiming to appeal to. Every day was a new kind of challenge Ostrom was ready to take on, how to make a blog story compelling, how to get people to read it, how to make sure they understood it. If Aveda’s readers understood their message, the desire to help would slowly grow in them. Simply purchasing an Aveda product could mean the difference between sick families and children getting an education for the first time. That money would go to the families in need, and Aveda made it clear that you were the source behind that change for a family. The simplicity of Project Clean Water was a strong selling point to even the laziest of people. The journey of impact was available for all the people willing to help out. Consumers would get to see how their purchase made a difference in a community, that reason being why Ostrom believed Project Clean Water was so successful. Another strong belief of Ostrom’s was that it was important to create a world where people were happy, educated, those things would be the product of access to clean water. When people supported places like Aveda, that were striving to make a difference, changes could be made, lives could be affected.

When asked what other projects she would like to see take place at Aveda in the future, Ostrom said a project supporting the ban on cheap, dangerous plastic. Items like plastic bags, straws, bottles, were damaging our oceans wildlife as we sat idle, watching it destroy the environment of the deep blue. No matter the project, or how difficult it would be to make a change, Ostrom knew she wanted to save the world. With the support of ordinary people, differences could be made in the world, lives could be impacted. All it took were projects like the ones at Aveda, to truly show others what they could do on their own to change our planet. One view on a blog post, one purchase of a product, one single solitary second of awareness could be the reason Aveda’s mission became a reality for everyone.