As poverty and systemic injustices continue to affect millions of Americans, individuals face compounding challenges in their daily lives. While discussions often revolve around issues like food insecurity and lack of access to education, one crucial problem often goes unnoticed: hygiene insecurity. The inability to afford everyday hygiene products, ranging from toiletries to menstrual supplies, has a significant impact on the health and well-being of individuals already facing unjust obstacles. Recognizing the critical need to address hygiene insecurity, nonprofit organization Simply the Basics has unveiled a groundbreaking solution called the Hygiene Locator. This digital platform connects people in need with local organizations offering free hygiene supplies, aligning with the vision of a global society striving for sustainable development and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The mental and physical health implications of being unable to afford basic hygiene supplies are staggering. Living with limited income and the resulting inability to meet essential needs like food and hygiene is associated with a 275% higher risk of anxiety and a 253% higher risk of depression, according to a 2021 study in BMC Public Health. Additionally, studies have shown that a lack of hygiene products can exacerbate chronic conditions, and individuals experiencing homelessness often face preventable health conditions that hinder their ability to secure employment or perform daily activities.
Hygiene insecurity is not an isolated issue, as evidenced by a survey conducted by Feeding America, which revealed that one in three low-income families struggled to afford basic household necessities in the past year. Unfortunately, there are no national public programs specifically addressing this universal need. Simply the Basics, however, has stepped in to fill this gap.
With the introduction of the Hygiene Locator map and database, Simply the Basics offers a digital network of hygiene services that connect people in need with local organizations providing essential hygiene supplies free of charge. This user-friendly platform also assists those interested in donating supplies by helping them locate nearby hygiene distributors, reducing wastage and creating a win-win situation for all involved.
The Hygiene Locator's comprehensive search options allow users to find specific hygiene products, such as diapers or textured hair shampoo, while also filtering results based on parameters such as ADA accessibility, spoken languages, additional services offered, public bathroom availability, and hours of service. By streamlining the process and providing tailored information, Simply the Basics aims to alleviate the burden of searching for specific hygiene needs, ensuring that individuals receive the support they require.
Many of the organizations and community distributors listed in the Hygiene Locator database are part of Simply the Basics' Hygiene Bank Association. This association, the first of its kind, has established quality control standards for the distribution of hygiene products worldwide. Membership in the association facilitates interconnection among hygiene distribution banks, enabling them to collaborate efficiently and equitably in getting these vital items into the hands of those who need them most.
These pioneering initiatives from Simply the Basics have been made possible through a partnership with Method Products, a personal care and cleaning brand. Method Products supports Simply the Basics' quarterly grant program by providing its line of hygiene products, helping newly developed and growing hygiene banks nationwide in their mission to bridge the hygiene gap.
Since its inception in 2016, Simply the Basics has distributed over 2 million hygiene items to individuals in need across 185 cities. The organization's impact is truly commendable, as it has supplied essential items such as PPE, dental hygiene products, menstrual hygiene items, healthy food and snacks, infant care items, razors and shaving supplies, shampoo and conditioner, soap, body wash, wipes, deodorant, towels and bedding, socks and undergarments, as well as miscellaneous health and wellness items, including complete hygiene kits.
By leveraging digital resources like the Hygiene Locator, Simply the Basics aims to amplify its reach and make hygiene supplies more accessible to all. Recognizing that hygiene health is intricately linked to public health, Simply the Basics' mission aligns with the vision of a global society that prioritizes health equity and strives to achieve the SDGs. By removing the dehumanization often associated with handouts, the organization empowers underserved community members to access the dignity and benefits that come with good hygiene and choice.
The launch of the Hygiene Locator represents another significant step towards building a sustainable and inclusive world where basic human needs are met for everyone. It exemplifies the power of civil society initiatives in addressing critical gaps and fostering positive change within communities. Through their commitment to hygiene equity, Simply the Basics and its partners inspire hope and contribute to a brighter future for all.
More information: https://www.simplythebasics.org
Video credits: @Simply the Basics