What Happens Next When Two Soap Recycling Programs Join Forces?

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Recycling tiny soaps leftover in hotel rooms across the globe was unheard of until 2009, when two non-profit organizations both started revolutionary large-scale programs to save and repurpose these often half-used toiletries. The organizations, Clean the World and Global Soap, have now joined forces in 2015 to work together to make an even larger impact on preventing illness caused by lack of proper hygiene.

hotel soap

Image courtesy of faungg’s photos.

In six years, the two soap recycling organizations have contributed to a 30% reduction in childhood deaths from hygiene-related illnesses.

Clean the World was started in Orlando, Florida in a one-car garage. Shawn Seipler, a sales executive, wondered what happened to the tiny bars of soap leftover from his 150 nights spent in hotel rooms each year. When he found out that the soap was thrown away, while children died around the world each day because they had no access to soap, he decided to form Clean the World.

Meanwhile, in Atlanta, Georgia, Derreck Kayongo was troubled by his time visiting refugee camps, where illness was rampant because people had no access to soap. He partnered with a veteran hospitality executive who shared his same concerns about throwing away soaps at hotels and started the Global Soap Project in his basement.

So, why is repurposing soaps smaller than the size of your palm so important? Because 1.4 million people die each year from hygiene-related illnesses, accounting for almost one third of all children’s deaths.

Soap can reduce diarrheal disease by almost 50%, while reducing respiratory infections by nearly 25% by teaching proper hand washing techniques and providing soap. According to Global Soap, handwashing with soap is more effective than vaccines, medications or clean water initiatives alone.

One third of the world’s soap is used by the U.S., while 2.6 million bars are thrown away in hotel rooms every day in the United States, alone.

Does soap really need to be cleaned!?!

What about the ick factor – how can you really clean soap? First, the facility surface cleans the soaps (volunteers are integral for this first stage). Then the soap is sterilized with a process tested and validated by SGS North America to eliminate all pathogens. Then, the sterilized soap is ground up and pressed into new bars.

Since 2009, Clean the World has distributed more than 25 million bars of soap to people in need in 99 countries. Recycling the soaps and small toiletry bottles has diverted nearly 4,000 tons of waste from landfills in North America.

More than 4,000 hotels and resorts (equating to more than 500,000 hotel rooms), as well as 500 events, have partnered with Clean the World to recycle hotel amenities.

Clean the World now focuses on recycling the soap and toiletries at their three facilities in Orlando, Las Vegas and Hong Kong. They are the only high-volume soap recycler in the world. Global Soap is now focused on soap distribution and promoting global hygiene.

Feature image courtesy of Luke Oakley

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Kimberly Button

Kimberly Button is the author of The Everything Guide to a Healthy Home and the Editor-in-Chief of GetGreenBeWell , featuring modern, sane ideas for living a non-toxic life. A professional journalist for nearly two decades, Button has written for magazines such as Martha Stewart's Whole Living, American Airlines, AAA, Sierra, National Geographic Traveler, and Vegetarian Times. Visit KimButton.com for more information.

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