Recycling hotel soaps and redistributing them to those in need – that’s the challenge taken on by the Global Soap Project, which now partners major health and hygiene programs.
What does the Global Soap Project do? Collects, sorts sterilizes and repackages bars of soap before redistributing them in developing countries.
Have you wondered what happens to that little guest soap you find on the courtesy tray in your hotel room? Usually the answer is simple - it ends up in the trash. In the US, for example, nearly two million hotel soaps end up in landfill every day. Seeing all this waste, with his wife Sarah, Derreck Kayongo - a Ugandan refugee who had moved to the United States - had the idea of collecting and recycling these soaps. Why? To redistribute them in countries where soap is in seriously short supply. Hand washing with soap is an everyday reflex in developed countries, but in many parts of the globe it is still impossible… however, it helps prevent the spread of avoidable diseases caused by contamination from dirty hands and poor hygiene - dysentery, diarrhea, and pneumonia for example. Hand washing is the best preventative medicine there is - especially for children. So in 2009 Derreck Kayongo created a start-up, the Global Soap Project.
Soap bubbles can finally be recycled
The Global Soap Project is based on a simple principle: guest soaps, collected by chamber maids in partner hotels, are routed to a treatment plant in Atlanta. There they are sorted, sterilized and repackaged before being entrusted to NGOs in Africa and Latin America, who distribute them for free during medical examinations and routine visits.
To convince people that wasting these soaps is not only a threat to the environment but also an opportunity for people in poor countries, for several years Derreck Kayongo traveled the United States and rallied nearly 500 hotels to his cause. Major international hotel chains like the Hilton and the Intercontinental joined him. Derreck handed over the reins to Sam Stephens, who has headed Global Soap Project since 2012. The small start-up has become a recognized organization and one of the major health and hygiene players in developing countries. Since 2014, several major Italian hotels - Principe di Savoia, Savoy Grado and Radisson Blues - have joined the project.
Since it began the Global Soap Project has distributed nearly 2 million soaps in 32 countries - almost as much as the amount wasted every day in American hotels. Since 2015, the Global Soap Project has joined the Clean The World organization, which collects soaps, along with plastic bottles, to recycle them. The start-up has even begun developing hygiene education programs.
Main picture: Getty Image