02/07/2013 11:00 BST | Updated 01/09/2013 06:12 BST

Soap Saves Lives: Cleaning Up, One Hotel at a Time


Hotels are starting to look beyond cutting down on laundry and changing light bulbs to help preserve the environment. An increasing number of hoteliers are signing up to the Clean the World (CTW) program, whereby waste soap, shampoo and conditioner is recycled and distributed to communities in need all over the world.

There needs to be more awareness about how crucial hand washing with soap can be when it comes to saving lives. Two fatal diseases that can be prevented are acute respiratory infection and diarrheal disease, which today are the biggest killers of children under five years old.

A part of the scheme is the British cosmetics brand, Gilchrist & Soames, already well-known internationally for its environmentally-friendly products and packaging, which are stocked in many hotel guest bathrooms around the world. Currently, participating hotels are located in North America and include brands like Aloft, Starwood, Travelodge, the Ritz-Carlton, Hilton, Hyatt and Le Meridien.

CTW collects and recycles soap products discarded by the hospitality industry every day, and once the soap leftovers have been treated, hygiene products can be distributed to people in need all over the world.

An important part of the organisation's work with its hospitality partners, is to educate staff on the soap and shampoo recycling program. Online training videos and housekeeping instruction posters are also provided to help implement the scheme; it is this holistic teaching about the program that has made the Clean the World project successful so far.

Created in 2009, CTW has collected and recycled enough waste soap to distribute 12 million bars of soap to communities in need in more than 55 countries worldwide including Zimbabwe, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Swaziland, Mali, Mongolia, Uganda, Honduras, and Romania. That's a lot of soap - that's 11 million soap bars and 325,000 pounds of shampoo and conditioner that has been put back into the usage cycle, simultaneously eliminating over 750 tons of waste.

Currently, there are three Clean the World recycling operation centres: Orlando and Las Vegas in the USA and Toronto in Canada. Additional collection and recycling facilities are being established in North America and soon we should expect to see CTW's recycling plants closer to home in Europe, which will contribute to drastically reducing the company's carbon footprint in the exportation of its products to people in need on this side of the world.