Global Shapers are young leaders who want to develop their leadership potential towards serving society. They work together in teams to improve their communities. This special series highlights the winners of Coca-Cola’s Shaping a Better Future Grant Challenge for the Global Shapers Community. This challenge rewards taking action, leading positive change and using innovative approaches to tackle serious social issues.

The Coca-Cola Company is a founding partner of this World Economic Forum Community.  We think the Shapers are pretty awesome and hope you enjoy seeing the change they are starting in their own backyards.

Sharing my experience with the “I Give a Crap” project has come at a very significant time in my life. On January 12, Haiti commemorated five years of hard work and community building since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the country on that quiet Tuesday afternoon in 2010.

I began working in Haiti three weeks after the earthquake and knew sanitation would be a long-term issue. The community where we were working expressed they had been practicing open defecation since before the earthquake. This practice triggered bigger public health concerns. Open defecation was not only a sign of poor sanitation, but also a gateway to underground water contamination and possible cholera infection. Considering these factors, the ecological sanitation toilets were introduced in the community and my love for poop and composting was renewed. So far, we’ve built three ecological toilets in the community and positively affected 438 people.  

Worldwide, however, there are still 1 billion people who practice open defecation and 2.5 billion who have no access to sanitation services. This is the main reason why “I Give a Crap” was conceived.

In the developing world, we flush away our waste with potable water every time we use our toilets. Ecological sanitation (composting) toilets are commonly used in developing countries. With the rapid growth of climate change, the predominant threat of water scarcity, as well as a growing movement in urban farming around the world, composting toilets prove to be a sound alternative in developed countries as well.

The Idea

“I Give a Crap” is a sustainable, ecological sanitation education project that addresses rural and urban farmers’ environmental, public health, and social needs in their communities across Hub cities within the Global Shapers Community. With the Coca-Cola Shaping a Better Future grant, we hope to:

  • Create an online downloadable toolkit for interested partners and stakeholders that provides information about ecological sanitation, how to make compost, common misconceptions, and the health and nutritional benefits of organic farming;
  • Design a transferable comprehensive model of community organization and sustainable development that can be scaled-up to other Hub cities within the Global Shapers Community around the world; and
  • Build a fourth toilet in the community in Haiti and share their lessons learned and best practices from the last five years.
Through this project, we’ve learned the importance of giving a crap about something. That something, in this case poop and sanitation, can turn into something powerful. Along the way, you will find people and organizations (like Coca-Cola) that will believe in you and support you, but you will also find people who will try to knock you down.

One thing I’ve held on to is this: once I give a crap about something, there’s no stopping me. Will you join us in giving a crap about sanitation?

Andrea Pérez-Homar

Andrea Pérez-Homar is the Founder & CEO of Silent Grace Foundation, Curator of the San Juan Hub of the Global Shapers Community, and Project Lead for “I Give a Crap.” She has a master’s in Public Health and is passionate about global health, sustainable development, and ecological sanitation.