How a delivery car wash service is cleaning up the water crisis

In its latest publicity stunt, Just Wash drove a parade of dirty cars through the streets of Beirut.

BEIRUT: A Lebanese company has added a new item to the country’s range of delivery options: a car-cleaning service that is also good for the environment.

Just Wash is a delivery car wash business that conserves water by using non-toxic, biodegradable chemicals instead of water hoses. Since it was founded by Samer Jalloul last summer, the company has expanded from Beirut to the Baabda, Jounieh and Dora areas. Its growth comes at an opportune time, as parts of the country suffer from water shortages and pitiful rainfall.

“Everyone is aware of the water situation, and people are preparing for it,” said Wassim Zeidan, the company’s national operations manager, speaking over the phone from Dubai.

Car washes often use 150-300 liters of water, and the task of cleaning Lebanon’s 1.5 million registered cars uses over 200 million liters of water per month, according to statistics gathered by Just Wash.

By comparison, Just Wash uses around 250 ml of water per car and has calculated its total water conservation since September at around 2.4 million liters. As the service’s popularity grows, nongovernmental organisations have approached it to help spread the word about other ways to be more environmentally friendly.

“We started an initiative that discusses ways to tackle water consumption,” Zeidan said. “We don’t even have any water in our toilets today. This is not a total solution. ... It’s more a lifestyle.”

Just Wash dispatches its cleaners to wherever a client has parked and cleans both the exterior and interior for around LL10,000. Service subscribers can also set a time and place for regular washes once or twice a week.

The company also avoids using chemicals containing formaldehyde, a common compound in cleaning fluids that has been classified as a carcinogen, while its staff get around on electric motorcycles to reduce carbon emissions.

A local market study showed that car-owners see regular washes as an inconvenience, because it can take several hours to get through city traffic and then hunt for a parking spot.

“There is always traffic. In order to wash your car, it may take three to four hours,” Zeidan said. “Why not have a delivery service, so while at work you can get your car cleaned?”

To spread the word about water conservation, and to gather more business, Just Wash drove a parade of dirt-covered cars through Beirut over the weekend. Armed with a social media-savvy staff, the company also posted an online stop-motion advertisement featuring a pair of faces drawn on mud-caked vehicles.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 05, 2014, on page 2.




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