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Washing Hands with Recycled Soap to Save Lives


Using soap is the simplest way of preventing the spread, contracting and infection of diseases. This luxury is only available and affordable in developed nations. Lack of access to clean water, poor sanitation and hygiene contribute to two leading causes of high child mortality in the poorest countries: pneumonia and diarrhea. The simple practice of washing hands with soap reduces this risk by 50 percent.

Because so many people who live in these countries do so on a dollar a day, soap is a luxury rather than a necessity. This leads to a higher risk of illnesses that might have been prevented by simple hygiene like washing hands. Because of its relatively high cost within many economies, Clean the World reports that 35 percent of health care facilities in impoverished countries lack soap.

Shawn Seipler, founder of Clean the World, learned that most of the barely used hotel soap bars ended up in landfills after guests check out. According to the Global Soap Project, the hotel industry in the U.S., which uses a third of the global soap supply, throws away an astonishing 2.6 million bars of soap on a daily basis.

Seipler chose to change this by recycling soap hotels were throwing away. He has dedicated his time and effort to recycling soap and sending it to developing countries for continued use. “The recycling, which ends up costing hotels just 75 cents per room a month, allows leftover soap, body wash, shampoo and conditioner to be melted down, sterilized and formed into new soap that is sent all over the world.” Since Clean the World began in 2009, the organization has delivered 40 million bars of soap to more than 115 countries.

In 2015, Clean the World partnered with the Global Soap Project to increase production, delivery and outreach. Since the partnership formation, in addition to joining forces with contributions from 4,000-plus hotels, they have delivered 24 million bars of soap to 99 countries.

Seipler focuses his recycling efforts on bringing soap to schools within developing countries. The result of his recycling efforts might be an additional 1.9 billion school days. Clean the World is also working to provide soap to health care facilities and communities.

It is hopeful that the impact from the above projects will help improve not only health, but the overall quality of life in undeveloped nations.

Taylor Elgarten

Photo: Flickr