Saving the world one bar at a time.

By Melissa Locker
May 05, 2017
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Those tiny bars of hotel soaps and adorable toiletries can be a fun perk of a hotel stay, especially if they're a fancy brand that we would never pay for in real life. But what happens to the soap that you use once and leave in the shower, or don't take home to hand out to houseguests? Turns out that travelers and hotels combine to toss out roughly a million bars a day in the US, according to Thrillist, and perhaps 5 million bars a day worldwide. That's a lot of wasted soap.

An Orlando-based company has stepped up to make sure that all those bars of soap, half used shampoo and conditioner bottles, don't go to waste. The company is called Clean the World and they collect used hotel soap, melt it down, and make new clean soap. Toiletries like shampoo and conditioner can be turned into hygiene kits that are distributed at homeless shelters. The new bars of soap, though, are sent to international charities and groups like the Red Cross and Salvation Army to deliver countries where soap is not only a luxury, but can be absolutely life-saving. While most of us don't spend much time thinking about the bar of Dove that sits by the sink, in many countries around the world a bar of soap can actually save the lives of babies.

That sounds like a wild statement, but there is a lot of science and sad statistics behind it. Hands that are not properly washed are a common way to spread illnesses like pneumonia and diarrhea, which are the leading infectious causes of child deaths worldwide, according to Global Citizen. Diarrhea kills 1,500 kids a day around the world and 600,000 annually. If everyone around the world properly washed their hands with soap, the lives of thousands of babies and children would be saved, according to the World Health Organization. Unfortunately, soap isn't easy to come by in many communities, because it's not available or it's too expensive. That's why the work of Clean the World and other groups is so important. They are turning hotel trash into a product that could actually save the lives of babies.

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According to Thrillist, Clean the World works with around 5,000 hotels across the United States, including all of Disney's properties, many of the hotels on the Vegas strip, as well as hotels in New York, Chicago, Hong Kong, and London. Large companies like Unilever, who make Dove, Suave, and more, also send them their discarded soaps. Last year, Clean the World made more than seven million bars of soap last year, including half a million bars that were sent to Haiti and the Bahamas after Hurricane Matthew.

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