Most of us don’t think about what hotels do with the complimentary hygiene products we may or may not use during our stay.
While some might assume that hotels find ways to recycle them, that isn’t always the case. Shawn Seipler was curious about what happened to all the barely used hotel soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and body washes where he was staying at a Minneapolis hotel in 2008, so he decided to ask the staff. After being told that they throw the products out, he came up with an amazing way to not only reuse them, but to save lives around the world.
According to the World Health Organization, diarrhea is one of the leading causes of death for children under five, which Seipler says can be prevented with proper hygiene using soap. That’s what inspired him to start his organization, Clean the World.
His mission is to collect and recycle soap and hygiene products, then give them to people who could really use them in other countries including Kenya, Tanzania, and Haiti. Since 2009, they’ve partnered with 4,000 hotels to redistribute 40 million bars of soap to 115 countries.
The organization does this by training housekeeping staff and providing them with materials to collect and send the hygiene products to one of its five recycling plants. It only costs the hotels 75 cents per room every month.
Once there, they are melted down, sterilized, and then reformed into new bars to be redistributed around the globe. Clean the World also helps people in the U.S. as well — it sells hygiene kits to organizations that will then donate them to charities.
In addition to expanding to mainland China and the Middle East, Seipler’s future plans include helping small soap makers create a demand for their products in impoverished countries, which could make a huge difference for them economically and for the health of other people.