Sunday, May 1, 2011

Saving Lives and Landfills one Bar at a Time

The last time you stayed in a hotel - chances are you used part of the soap they provided and left the rest of it there.  Ever wonder what became of that soap?   Several years ago frequent traveler, Shawn Seipler wondered the same thing.  So he talked to his buddy Paul Till and together they decided to conduct a little research.  They discovered that each day in North America, nearly 2 million bars of soap and bottled amenities are discarded as trash - sending nearly 358 tons of soap and plastic bottles to local landfills on a daily basis....and there it was – one of those moments when two individuals hit on an idea that could change the world.   Shawn started experimenting with recycling used soap on the stovetop in his kitchen.  Eventually they discovered how to do it.   But what to do with the recycled soap remained the question.   Should they sell it to consumers?   How would they market it?   Then an “aha” moment struck.  Why not distribute the soap to people worldwide who lack access to something we take for granted – soap!
That’s when Clean The World was born with a two-part mission:
  • Collect and recycle soap and shampoo products discarded by the hospitality industry every day.
  • Through the distribution of these and other donated hygiene products to impoverished people, prevent the millions of deaths caused by hygiene-related illnesses every day.
Clean the World is the largest global recycler of hotel amenities. In less than two years they have distributed more than 7 million bars of soap to children and families in the United States, Haiti and more than 40 countries worldwide. Included in this number are 1.5 million bars of soap sent to Haiti since the Jan. 2010 earthquake, with 300,000 soap bars delivered since an outbreak of cholera (diarrheal disease) in October.
Clean the World has partnered with more than 725 hotel properties in North America to provide soaps and bottled amenities to people in need. While doing so, Clean the World has also fulfilled a valuable environmental mission by diverting an estimated 550 tons of hotel waste from polluting landfills in the United States and Canada.   These numbers are increasing daily!   In fact, they just announced their first corporate partnership with Starwood Hotels & Resorts which will amount to 1.6 more million bars of soap recycled each year!
I am sharing this with you for two reasons:
  1. To remind us that one “aha” moment can in fact change the world.
  2. To encourage anyone that runs a large hotel or a small B&B to participate in the program.
I had the honor of interviewing Shawn, on of the co-founders of this program and was so inspired by their story that I wanted to share it with you here.   He and the entire Clean The World team are truly an inspiration.   I guarantee you will never take that bar of soap in your hotel room or bathroom for granted again.  To learn more visit their website


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