I can’t believe that Cape Town, a place close to my heart and where I live, could become the first major city to run out of water. We have seen many droughts in the country, but never thought an entire city could be restricted to 50 litres of water per person, per day.
That’s a 90-second shower, flushing the toilet only once and not using the washing machine. Having also lived in Brazil and the US – two countries heavily affected by drought in recent years – I’ve seen first-hand the impact this has on families and communities.
But what’s even more alarming is the fact that millions of people on this planet live without access to water every single day, and the millions more who have no choice but to drink contaminated water.
This is wholly unacceptable.
As a business, we must ask ourselves what we can do to address challenges like these and improve people’s lives. That’s why we launched the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan in 2010.
Reaching 2.5 billion people a day, we know we are uniquely placed to use our size and scale for good. In concrete terms, that means working on innovative solutions that help people cope with situations where they have little or no water, and improve the quality of the water available to them for drinking, washing and cleaning.
One example is an anti-foam molecule we have developed to halve the water and time needed for rinsing laundry. The technology is incorporated in our Sunlight 2-in-1 washing powder in South Africa and RIN detergent bar in India.
We also have many products in our portfolio that don’t need water, such as the Cif surface cleaning wipes. And we are coming up with more. Today, we are launching Domestos Flush Less in Cape Town, a toilet spray that disinfects and eliminates malodours. This means most flushing can be avoided, saving huge amounts of water.