Ten years of hope from recycling soap

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by Edwin Morales

Clean the World gives discarded soap and bottles a second life. Ten years ago, in one of his many hotel stays while working at an e-commerce company, Shawn Seipler, founder and CEO of Clean the World, had an “Aha” moment. Curious as to what happened to the bar of soap after he checked out, Seipler called the front desk. The answer was unanimous across several hotels: It was thrown away.

After initial research in 2009, Seipler found that with access to soap and proper hand washing, diseases could be cut by as much as half. Yet every day, millions of bars of soap and hygiene amenities are discarded from the hospitality industry all over the U.S. There was an immediate need and a desire to help – but how?

Clean the World began with the mission to collect and recycle these discarded products from the hospitality industry, and through a SGS-approved sanitizing process, clean, grind, and press the soap into newly recycled bars. With the help of partners and volunteers, Clean the World had its answer.

What started in a one-car garage sitting on upside-down pickle buckets, hand scraping bars of soap with potato peelers, has now developed into a global social enterprise with more than 48 million bars of soap distributed to more than 127 countries, serving more than 10 million individuals in need, while diverting 18 million-plus pounds of waste from landfills. Since 2009, Clean the World has expanded from its Orlando headquarters to recycling centers in Las Vegas, Montreal, Amsterdam, Punta Cana, and Hong Kong.

Impactful programs have emerged with the growth of Clean the World, as the organization continues to develop new ways to reach more people in need, share the importance of health and hygiene, and find sustainable ways to reduce landfill waste.

  • The WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) Education Program provides hygiene supplies and training to schools, maternal health centers, and community clinics to help provide education and resources on WASH to children and families around the world.
  • The Emergency Relief Program is designed to supply lifesaving hygiene supplies to victims displaced from their homes due to natural disasters.
  • The Mobile Hygiene Unit, currently in Las Vegas, provides the homeless with hygiene supplies and a hot shower, helping them feel clean while connecting them with local resources to get back on their feet
  • The Microfinancing Program financially empowers women around the world to run their own soap-making business, ensuring that the schools and local community have ongoing access to soap and can continue practicing good hygiene.

The Women’s Initiative Program supports feminine and maternal hygiene, while giving female entrepreneurs the opportunity to sustainably provide health supplies to their local communities.

With soap, there is hope, and with the vision to help save lives, the process becomes clear. Through our impactful relationships with hotels and corporations, our partners are able to reach their CSR goals and have a meaningful connection with their community, as well as improve their public image and boost employee engagement.

During the past 10 years, in places all over the world, we’ve contributed to the reduction of hygiene-related illnesses, but we still have a long way to go. If we’re already working together, thank you for supporting our mission!

To learn more and get involved, please contact us at programs@cleantheworld.org.

Edwin Morales is the marketing and social media manager for Clean the World, a nonprofit started in 2009.

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