• Peri Avari

How Covid-19 has Changed our Perspective on Health and Hygiene



Reminders to wash our hands frequently have become a common feature in our daily lives for the past year and a half. And while urban areas of most countries consider health and hygiene products like hand soap, lotion, toothpaste and shampoo to be a given, the reality is different for rural areas, urban slums and low-income countries. Unicef data reveals that though access to basic hygiene has increased in the last five years, 2.3 billion people still lacked basic services in 2020, including 670 million people with no hand washing facilities at all. (Source)


Reasons for Change in Health and Hygiene

Over the years, there’s already been a slow and steady growth in the levels of importance given to health and cleanliness, especially when it comes to keeping illnesses at bay. Like the WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) campaign by Unicef which educates the vulnerable populations on services like clean drinking water and basic hygiene that help fight diseases. But the recent pandemic has lead to a strong focus on cleaning and sanitation products, mainly due to the following:

  1. The first line of defense against an evolving global pandemic with many unknowns was hand washing.

  2. As the pandemic progressed, the best way for every country to get back to ‘normal’ was by adopting heavy sanitation systems in all public places including hospitals, offices, day cares, transit and other essential services.

  3. A concept that meant little to our generation before Covid-19 was ‘quarantine’. However, during this pandemic, keeping the sick and potentially exposed people in quarantine, or away from the unaffected population, in well sanitized areas has become an important part of stopping the spread of this disease.


Consumer Behavior Aspects of Health and Hygiene

The fear caused by Covid-19 and the unpredictable nature of its variants has given rise to a whole new set of habits of personal hygiene and around public places. Popular media and social channels are now filled with relevant (and at times, irrelevant) advice on new and interesting ways to keep the new illness away.


Consumers feel a sense of control over disease management when they can sterilize surfaces around their home using effective cleaning products. Increased hand washing routines have also been a significant change in consumer behavior.


Commercial sanitation protocols are a hot topic of conversation and debate. The use, and overuse, of chemicals has become a norm to combat the spread of COVID-19 and get places to reopen. These measures give assurance to a harrowed population that public spaces can be visited with the lowest possible risk to the family.


Disruption in the supply chain was a key challenge to the health and hygiene industry. Brands and businesses alike have faced the downsides of panicked consumer buying patterns and the inability to keep their operations running, all while planning for logistics issues and delayed deliveries.


A Need for Naturally Sourced Health and Hygiene Products

Life has changed permanently for our generation when it comes to the use of hygiene products that stop the spread of disease. The effects of the germ phobia and fear caused by the pandemic are here to stay. Let’s take a look at why the next best course of action is to adopt better-for-you products:


Safety

Naturally sourced products give some respite from the high application of chemicals seen in every area of life, from the constant use of hand soaps and sanitizers at home, to heavy commercial cleaners in public places like schools, gyms and concert halls that now bear the distinct smell of a highly sterilized hospital.


Sustainability

Natural products offer the benefit of being environmentally friendly while being good for the people using it, killing two birds with one stone. While it might not be possible to change all of one’s health and hygiene products right away, it’s worth looking for cleaner options for frequent use hygiene items like hand soaps, sanitizers, bath and face products, wipes and food contact surface cleaners.


Industry Compliance and Effectiveness

Health and hygiene industry standards are heavily regulated in most countries around the world. While we see a rise in the number of brands aiming to have a product line of approved naturally sourced alternatives, many users still demand chemical based products, viewing them as more effective when it comes to cleaning, washing and sanitizing, a perception that needs to change.


Long Term Impact

Prior to the pandemic, cleaning products were used sparingly as needed. So, we are yet to learn about the effects of breathing in and coming in contact with chemical based products as frequently as we now do in homes and public areas.


The pandemic has set us on a new normal in our use of health and hygiene products that touch every part of a society, including the most vulnerable like young children and seniors. Our choices from this point on need to be considerate of everyone who comes in contact with them.



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