Someone’s Actually Doing Something Good With Leftover Hotel Soaps

Because no one wants to arrive in their hotel room and find used soap awaiting them in the shower, guests are always given a fresh bar upon checking in. While many of those partially used bars surely end up wasted in the trash, one non-profit group is collecting a bunch of leftover hotel soaps to help people in need.

Clean the World started seven years ago, founded by a tech company worker who traveled often. He tells the Associated Press he was hit with a thought one night while staying at a Minneapolis hotel.

“I picked up the phone and called the front desk and asked them what happens to the bar of soap when I’m done using it,” recalled Shawn Seipler, the group’s CEO. “They said they just threw it away.”

He did some research and found that millions of used bars of soap from hotels around the world end up in landfills every day. Meanwhile, people in developing nations are dying from illnesses that could be prevented simply with better access to personal hygiene products.

That’s how Clean the World began, and it has now expanded to include industrial recycling facilities in Las Vegas, Orlando and Hong Kong, places where there are plenty of hotels and used bars of soap can be collected by the thousands. Heck, they’ll even take half-used bottled shampoos and the like as well.

Though people in the U.S. and other developed countries might take hygiene products for granted due to their ubiquity, soap and other items aren’t as plentiful in many other nations.

“A lot of people are surprised to find out that one of the most effective ways to prevent many deaths is actually just hand-washing with soap,” Global Soap director Sam Stephens said. “We’re hoping to make a difference.”

Clean the World announced this week that it’s teaming up with another initiative called Global Soap to step up production, hygiene education and delivery to those in need.

Together, they say they’re now collecting used soap from more than 4,000 hotels, and have delivered about 25 million bars to 99 countries, as well as homeless shelters right here in the U.S.

Here’s how it works: The soap is collected, shredded, run through machines that get rid of any residual bacteria another guest may have left, and then get shaped into new bars and packaged up. People get soap to wash their hands and possibly prevent the spread of common infectious diseases, and everyone wins.

Group hopes recycled hotel soap helps save lives worldwide [Associated Press]

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