CLEAN Cause Supports Sober Living Through Sparkling Tea Sales

This local brand keeps Austin hydrated and caffeinated while supporting those in recovery


Courtesy of CLEAN Cause

In a world that's increasingly more aware – and vocal – about the realities of substance abuse and addiction, more nonalcoholic options are appearing in bars, restaurants, and store shelves. But one Austin-born brand is keeping Austin hydrated and caffeinated while also actively supporting those in recovery.

Wes Hurt founded CLEAN Cause with the intention of helping individuals in recovery reintegrate from rehab to daily sober living. Half of CLEAN's profits go to assisting those in addiction recovery, and to date, they have granted more than 2,823 scholarships, representing more than $1.4 million. And since adding Kroger banner stores to their retailers (which already included H-E-B, Whole Foods Market, Amazon, Instacart, and Walmart), CLEAN Cause is poised to help thousands more.

"It was seeing the pain that my addiction inflicted on myself and, most importantly, my family and friends, that made me realize how big of an issue addiction is in America," Hurt told the Chronicle. "Nineteen million Americans struggle with substance abuse and each one of them has a family and friend network just like me. So if you take that 19 million, multiplied by an individual's family and friend network, it becomes clear quickly that there's likely not a single person in America not affected by addiction."

This is the second business venture launched by Hurt, a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur. The first was Hey Cupcake!, one of Austin's very first food trailers. After visiting Magnolia Bakery on a trip to New York, he decided to bring the cupcake craze to Austin. He'd never baked a cupcake in his life, but he developed a base recipe through trial and error, plus the help of his best friend's mom, an experienced baker.


Wes Hurt (Courtesy of CLEAN Cause)
“We give where you swig. So anywhere there is a can sold, you can bet that sober living scholarships are available.” – CLEAN Cause founder Wes Hurt, who is now seven years sober

The trailer was an immediate success, but Hurt's addiction to alcohol and cocaine was spiraling out of control, and he'd also started using opiates. It took being fired from the business and kicked out of the house by his wife for him to truly hit rock bottom and decide to commit to sobriety.

"Early in my recovery there was a spark in my stomach that came without notice and it was simply this: I'm going to create a company that supports addiction recovery," remembered Hurt. "[Initially], I had no idea what the product was, so we've been cause-led since day zero."

Having been to rehab six times already, he identified a gap in support between in-patient rehab and sober living. It was during this transition that Hurt and so many of his peers had fallen back into using. So he developed a program where individuals can apply for a scholarship and CLEAN Cause will work with them to cover some or all of the costs associated with the sober living facility of their choice, with funds sent directly to the house. (Information on how to apply for a sober living scholarship is available at cleancause.com/pages/apply-for-a-scholarship.)

Hurt first launched CLEAN Cause in 2015 as a bottled water company, selling it door-to-door out of his truck to convenience and grocery stores around Austin. But he found himself seeking out a source of clean, organic energy to keep him energized as the brand grew. He also wanted to develop an appealing product that had not already oversaturated the consumer packaged goods market and could provide a sustainable source of funds to expand access to sober living.

After sourcing fair-trade yerba mate, a naturally caffeinated source of clean energy, he worked with a food scientist to develop a line of crisp and lightly sweetened, certified organic sparkling teas in low-calorie (blackberry, peach, lemon lime, raspberry, and watermelon mint) and zero-calorie (berry mint, orange ginger, cherry lime, and watermelon) natural flavors.

Earlier this year, he rebranded CLEAN Cause as a sparkling tea company and built the brand's distribution center in Austin. The company now ships products to more than 10,000 stores, spanning from Mexico to Canada. By distributing in-house, the company is also able to directly provide more job opportunities for individuals recovering from addiction.

"We give where you swig," explains Hurt, who is now seven years sober. "So anywhere there is a can sold, you can bet that sober living scholarships are available. From football to the arts community, addiction has impacted every community and every community is looking for a way to support recovery. That is why we are here, as a simple way to put your dollars – and taste buds – into action."

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