Have you ever wondered what happens to the half-used (or once-used) bar of hotel soap you leave in your room?
Maybe not, but it’s something to think about. Between travelers and hotels, about a million bars of soap a day are thrown out in the United States. That number increases to about 5 million bars a day worldwide. And one charity is trying to make that soap useful again.
What Happens To All That Leftover Hotel Soap?
The Orlando-based company called Clean The World is working to collect all that unwanted hotel soap, sanitize it, melt it down and distribute it around the globe. There are operations centers in Orlando, Las Vegas, Montreal, India and Hong Kong.
The company was started by Shawn Seipler, who used to be in the tech industry and traveled nearly five months out of the year. One night, he asked the hotel reception what would happen to his bar of hotel soap that he had used only once.
“I called down to the front desk and asked what they did with all the leftover soap,” Seipler told Thrillist. The hotel told him the truth: It all got thrown away. As he did more research into the scale of waste in America, he got more and more upset. And then he learned about rebatching.
Rebatching is a process that takes old soap and makes it new again. It’s melted down, cleaned and turned out good as new.
Why Bother To Reuse Soap?
As Seipler continued to study soap recycling, he also began to understand the deeper uses of soap. In fact, he found that thousands of children around the world die daily from diseases that the World Health Organization has found are mostly preventable with proper hygiene.
So Clean The World was born. Now, hotels can partner with the company, and for the low price of 50 cents per room per month, they can have all their hotel soaps recycled. They also recycle shampoo, conditioner and body wash for homeless shelters around the world. Clean The World provides everything from pickup of the materials to training of the housekeeping staff.
And so far, their work is making a huge difference. Just last year, they sent out a whopping 400,000 hygiene kits and made more than 7 million bars of recycled soap. While Clean The World is already having an incredible impact since its birth just seven years ago, they have a lot more work to do.
“There’s a whole world of hotels out there we can get to start donating,” Seipler told Thrillist. “Right now we’ve got 20 percent of all hotels in the US. That’s a lot of room to grow, and a lot of soap to make.”
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Other Organizations Tackling The Same Issue
Seipler isn’t the only person who took note of this wasteful problem and turned it into a solution. Samir Lakhani created the Eco-Soap Bank, an organization that collects used bars of soap, sanitizes them and sends them to places around the world where access to soap is scarce.
According to its website, since the organization launched in 2014, Eco-Soap Bank has supplied more than 650,000 people with soap and hygiene education.
Sundara is another organization that recycles soap and provides employment opportunities to women in underserved countries. The organization enlists female “hygiene ambassadors” to deliver soap and hygiene tips around their communities.
So far, Sundara has made 155,000 bars of soap and provided hygiene education to nearly 100 schools.
Does this make you think twice about where your used hotel soap is ending up?
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