Thinking back on when my parents and I took one of those “fancy” vacations where we actually stayed in a hotel, I cannot help but think of the little soap bars and shampoo bottles waiting in the bathroom. Sometimes there was even a body lotion, but that was only if we were staying in a really fancy hotel. It didn’t matter that the soap left my skin as dry as if I’d just survived a sand storm, or that the body lotion always had a weird after smell. Those little objects of joy made me feel rich as fuck. Yes, I admit, it did not take much to impress me as a child. I enjoyed the luxury they symbolized to me, and never thought about what happens to them once we checked out. Actually, until recently I never really thought about soap at all. Or about the amount of soap we throw away. Since there are 4.6 million hotel rooms in the USA alone, we must be throwing away a lot of soap.
To my great excitement, I have stumbled upon a program that collects discarded soap bars and recycles them into new soap. This effort is through the teamwork of two organizations; Clean the World and Global Soap Project. Together, they have created a program where hotels can donate their used soap bars. Clean the World provides instructions to hotels about how and where to send the soap. Once the soap is received, they shred it, sanitize it, melt it down, and create brand new soap bars. Once the new soap bars are ready the Global Soap Project distributes them to places in need. So far both organizations have distributed more than forty million bars of soap in over one hundred fifteen countries. Distribution is done in 3 focus areas: soap in school initiative; emergency relief; and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs. Clean the World and Global Soap Project are involved in much more than just collecting and distributing soap. These organizations educate locals on how and why using soap is important, they also provide startup capital and training for locals to become soap makers. This ensures that the area becomes self-sufficient in producing soap.
Distributing and educating the areas in need of soap has helped to decrease the number of deaths caused by pneumonia, diarrhea, and other hygiene and sanitation related illnesses. These numbers are shocking. Diarrhea alone causes the death of over 1.5 million children each year. Almost half of those deaths could be prevented by handwashing with soap. THAT is why this program is so important.
Reading up on all these facts brought up the question, how can I help? I am not a hotel, and I only have a limited amount of money to donate.
Spreading the information and awareness.
That is how I can help. The main reasons why hotels don’t join this program is simply because they don’t know about it. So I created an information sheet with basic facts about this cause. Since I travel all the time, I leave the digital information sheet with a hotel manager in every hotel that I am staying. Hopefully, when they read about the program they will join forces with Clean the World and Global Soap Project. Maybe that way, the 2.6 million soap bars that are discarded daily in the US can be put to better use.
If you feel like you would like to help out while you’re on vacation, a business trip, or if you are stuck at some family event, I have attached the digital information sheet. Print it out, or save the trees and email it to the manager of the hotel you are staying at. Join me, and help the world one soap bar at a time!