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Clean The World Recycles Soap And Saves Lives

By Sebrina Zerkus Smith |
That tiny sliver of soap you leave behind in your hotel shower can cut disease in the developing world by 60%.

That tiny sliver of soap you leave behind in your hotel shower can cut disease in the developing world by 60%.


You probably haven’t spent much time thinking about what happens to complimentary hotel room soap and shampoo once you’ve used it. But Clean The World has.

The Orlando based non-profit was created by Shawn Seipler and Paul Till in 2009 in an effort to reduce the waste created by discarded soap and sha2mpoo products. But an even loftier goal emerged. By sterilizing and redistributing the recycled soap, they also helped to prevent millions of deaths caused by illnesses related to poor hygiene.

Yep, that’s right, simple hand washing is the best defense against disease. But you knew that already, didn’t you?

Basic hygiene, like hand washing with soap, can significantly reduce the impact of two fatal diseases, acute respiratory infection and diarrheal disease. Death rates from these diseases are estimated at 5 million per year, with the majority of those occurring in children under 5 years old. Makes you think, doesn’t it.

So when Clean The World collects, sorts and sanitizes discarded hotel hospitality items like soap, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion and redistributes them to people in need, they’re making the world a cleaner place, literally.

Through organizations like World Vision, Compassion Alliance, and Floating Doctors, Clean the World has built an international distribution network that can get the recycled products into the hands of those who need it all over the world.

But Clean The World doesn’t stop there. They also distribute soap and shampoo to the homeless right here in America. With budgets already stretched because of lagging donations and a sagging economy, these donations help to give local shelters a little budget breathing room.

Clean The World has partnered with more that 230 national hotel chains, including Walt Disney World Resorts, Westgate Resorts, Intercontinental, Hil3ton, Hyatt, Starwood, Harrah’s, and others, to collect and donate used hospitality products for recycling. Items from over 100,000 rooms in 29 states are collected each day and delivered or sent by volunteers to Clean The World’s Recycling Operations Center (ROCS). There, more volunteers use a patented process to sterilize the items. Then they’re repackaged and distributed.

Clean the World has so far recaptured over 340 tons of post consumer waste. That’s about 5 million soap bars and 35.5 tons of shampoo and conditioner – all recycled and put back into human use.

But you don’t have to wait for your next vacation to make a donation to Clean The World. You can send used hygiene items directly to Clean The World. They’ll go through the same sanitization process as the collected hotel products and go out again to those in need.

So get involved. Host a neighborhood soap drive. Or start a new recycling bin -- for used hygiene products -- right next to your curbside recycling. You can even make a cash donation or become a volunteer with Clean The World.

Clean The World is a simple solution for a big problem. And they’re tackling it one bar of soap at a time.

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  • CJ M. 5 years ago
    WOW! This is fantastic! I didn't realize there was a way to sanitize these products.I have always collected unused hotel products to give to our local food pantry. Now, I will remember that I can do more with these products from home!
  • Elizabeth P. 5 years ago
    I knew there had to be another use for those tiny pieces of soap and those shampoo containers with just a little left in them. Super idea!
  • Barbara R. 5 years ago
    Such a wonderful idea!
  • Janice M. 5 years ago
    Great idea.
    it seemed like a big waste to trash it.