You may have heard of organizations such as homeless or women’s shelters that collect the small unused toiletries from hotels to give to their clients. Today’s organization takes that collection one step further by collecting used soap from hotels.
The mission of the Global Soap Project is to work with their hotel partners to divert used soap from going to the landfill and instead be reprocessed and reused by vulnerable populations around the world. Their ultimate goal is to impact global health by promoting sanitation and hygiene.
The Global Soap Project is based in Atlanta, Georgia, but soaps are collected from participating hotels across the United States and Canada.
In a CNN interview last year, Global Soap Project Founder Derreck Kayongo, a native of Uganda, spoke about his first hotel stay in the United States in the early 1990s. He was surprised to see the soap replaced each day even though it was barely used. That sparked an idea to recycle the discarded soaps into new bars for those who could not afford it. At 25 cents a bar, soap is not a priority for those making just one dollar a day. In 2009, Derreck was able to bring his soap recycling idea to life. Derreck and his wife Sarah started experimenting with soap making techniques in their basement. The organization has since grown to fill a warehouse.
Housekeeping departments of participating hotels collect the soap and the hotels ship it to the Global Soap Project warehouse. Volunteers clean the soap, process it into new bars, and package it for shipping. They also verify the safety of random samples of their reprocessed soap on a regular basis using an outside lab.
The soap is shipped to vulnerable populations including orphans, refugees, and disaster victims. Most organizations receiving soap contact the Global Soap Project and are screened and vetted as appropriate recipients. As of February 2012, the organization has distributed over 250,000 bars to 21 countries. In March 2012, they shipped their first container load of soap to Haiti.
How can you help?
- If you live near Norcross, Georgia, you can volunteer to clean and re-make soap. You can find the details of this opportunity on their website.
- You can share the project details with a hotel that is not already participating in the project. You can find a brochure for hotels here.
- Monetary donations can also be made to the Global Soap Project. You can donate online or by mail. Learn more on their website.
- You can also spread the word about this project by sharing this blog post using the sharing options at the end of the post.