Mary Campbell, Extension Director and Urban Sustainability Agent
This idea was just too good not to pass on. When we think about recycling, it is usually plastic, paper, printer cartridges, or other typical waste. A unique new program recycles partially used soap. An Orlando based non-profit, “Clean the World” is an organization that collects the partially-used soap from hotels to donate to organizations that provide aid to people around the world. Impoverished people die every day from acute respiratory infection and diarrheal disease. Each year more than five million lives are lost to these diseases with the majority of deaths being among children less than five years old. Studies have shown that simple hand washing substantially reduces the spread of these diseases. Unfortunately, the essential items for proper hand washing are unobtainable for millions of people worldwide.
In just 13 months, there are over 175 hotels (including Disney World) representing 80,000 hotel rooms in 20 states that have joined Clean the World’s Hospitality Recycling Program. The hotel industry currently throws away over 1.5 million bars of soap every day. The simple hygiene practice of washing one’s hands with plain soap can reduce these deaths significantly. According to clinical studies, the combination of bar soap and proper hygiene education can reduce the effects of acute respiratory illness and diarrheal disease, the number one and number two killers of children worldwide respectively, by up to 65%. Clean the World collects the gently used bar soap and bottled amenity products that are routinely thrown away by hotels and resorts. These products are then sanitized in their Recycling Operations Centers and packaged for distribution to those in need. In Pinellas County, we currently have nine properties committed to this program and Visit St. Pete/Clearwater is organizing more each day.