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The afterlife of hotel soap

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(CNN)Have you ever thought about what happens to that bar of soap in your hotel room you only used once? Shawn Seipler did while visiting Minneapolis in 2008.

"I called the front desk and asked," he says. "They said they threw it away."

That's when the idea for recycling soap came to him.

Pointing to World Health Organization statistics on childhood mortality, which lists diarrhea among the leading causes of death for children under 5, Seipler argues proper hygiene using soap could help save lives.

"Next thing you know, me and the Puerto Rican half of the family were sitting on upside-down pickle buckets in a garage in Orlando with vegetable peelers, cooking soap," he says.

Seipler's charity, Clean the World, was born.

How soap is recycled

The recycling process is simple. Clean the World provides collection materials, training and packaging to a hotel's housekeeping staff. The staff then collects soap, shampoo, conditioner and body washes and ships it all to the charity's recycling centers.

The items are melted down, sterilized and reformed into new bars.

Today, Seipler runs five recycling plants to collect soap and bottled amenities from approximately 4,000 partner hotels, including Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

The recycling service costs hotels 75 cents per room per month and allows Clean the World to distribute its soap around the globe, Seipler says.

Lather it up

Clean the World has distributed 40 million bars of soap to 115 countries since 2009, Seipler says. The organization has operations on the ground in countries including Kenya, Tanzania and Haiti, but they also partner with NGOs such as Children International and Rise Against Hunger to reach more locations and people.

For organizations that want to get involved closer to home, Clean the World sells hygiene kits that companies can donate to charities. The kits can also be specialized to meet the needs of women, children or veterans.

Looking to the future, Seipler says he has big plans.



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 Bobbers    211

Believe it or not, way back in 1964 I was working on attaining the rank of Eagle scout in Boy Scouts.  One requirement was to do a service project.

I collected soap from about six small motels once a month for six months and delivered it to a missionary group that, as OP stated, remelted, sanitized, and recast it into "new bars" of soap for distribution to their various missions.

Nice to see that it's still considered a good idea.  Thanks for the trip down memory lane, #52.

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