Have you ever wondered what happens to the bars of soap that get left behind after you leave your hotel room? I always figured the open bars went to the garbage dump, and the wrapped bars were left for the next guest. Well, that’s not necessarily the case, and in this society of trying to replace waste with recycling, that’s a great thing! It turns out there’s a company IN MY OWN FLIPPIN’ BACKYARD that’s collecting bunches of those soaps, melting them, and turning them into new bars of soap to give to people and countries in need.
Clean The World was founded in 2009 to address global health issues by using recycled and repurposed supplies from the hospitality industry. They’ve since been leading a Global Hygiene Revolution to distribute recycled soap and hygiene products from more than 5,000+ hotel and resort partners to children and families in countries that have high death rates due to acute respiratory infection (pneumonia) and diarrheal diseases (cholera) – which are two of the top killers of children under 5. Since its inception, Clean the World has distributed more than 53 million bars of soap in 127 countries.
Clean the World accomplishes its mission by collecting, recycling, and distributing discarded soap and, as available, plastic amenity bottles from participating hospitality partners that include Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hyatt, Hampton, Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites, Marriott, Mandarin Oriental, IHG, Best Western, Wyndham, Hard Rock Hotels, BlueGreen Vacations, and Walt Disney World, among others. They recycle guest room hygiene items at operations centers in Orlando, London, Amsterdam, Dominican Republic, Quebec, Las Vegas, and Hong Kong, and distribute them for humanitarian purposes with partnering non-profit organizations such as World Vision, Feeding America, Harvest Time International, Children’s International, Operation Christmas Child, and The Floating Doctors. The items are distributed both domestically (i.e., to disaster victims and those who use mobile showering units), and to children and families in communities around the world.
Here’s how it all happens – the hotels that partner with Clean The World (CTW) pay them 50 cents per room per month to have their soaps recycled. In turn, CTW provides bins, pickup, delivery, shipping, and training to their housekeeping staff. The staff separates out the soap bars and puts them into containers, which CTW trucks to one of their processing plants. Those soaps are combined with reject soaps from large companies such as Unilever, where they’re melted, sterilized, reformed, and packed to be sent to the non-profits they partner with.
The organization also makes Clean The World Hygiene Kits, which are basic hygiene products to people who are struggling to meet their family’s basic needs due to economic misfortune or natural disaster.
To test the recycling process, Clean the World hired SGS North America—the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing, and certification company. They put “infected” soap through the standard Clean the World recycling process, and the treated soap was tested for sterilization levels. The result was the complete elimination of all the pathogens (Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aerogenes, Salmonella typhymurium and Staphylococcus aureus).
To give you an idea of their impact, in 2016 alone, Clean the World sent out 400,000 hygiene kits and made more than 7 million bars of soap, including half a million bars for Haiti and the Bahamas after Hurricane Matthew.
Clean The World has about 50 full-time employees and is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization. To date, more than 271,000 volunteers have contributed over 654,000 hours of service at Clear The World Recycling Operations centers.
So a HUGE thank-you goes out to Clean The World, who is doing their part to combat disease and death…one bar of soap at a time.
* Photos via https://cleantheworld.org
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary