Bravo to CNN and its Heroes project. I have often wondered what happens to the hotel or motel bar of soap I leave behind after a nights stay.
I read this story on the CNN website and I think it’s important to share with you. Perhaps if we all encourage our favorite hotel chain to participate we can help save more lives.
(CNN) – What happens to the bar of soap you barely used the last time you checked into a hotel room? Most certainly it’s gone to waste at the end of each day.
This was a shocking revelation for Ugandan humanitarian and social entrepreneur Derreck Kayongo during his first stay in a U.S. hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the early 1990s.
“When i checked into the hotel, there were 3 bars of soap – there was body soap, hand soap and face soap and that did not include the shampoos – and so for me that was a new experience, I was thinking to my self, “why do they have soap for every part of their bodies?” Kayongo recalls. “Now, my goodness, why would you throw away such a resource?”
The striking realization stayed with Kayongo, a Ugandan native who spent much of his childhood as a refugee in Kenya, and prompted him years later to create the Global Soap Project. The non-profit organization reprocesses used soaps from hotels around the United States and turns them into new bars for impoverished nations such as Uganda, Kenya, Haiti and Swaziland.
Kayongo says an estimated 2.6 million bars of soap are discarded every day from hotels in the United States — collecting such an enormous amount of soap, he notes, can help poor countries fight disease and combat child mortality by improving access to basic sanitation.
“We have more than two million kids that die every year to lower respiratory diseases like diarrhea,” says Kayongo. “If you are able to put a bar of soap in every child’s hand, you are able to reduce infectious diseases like diarrhea and things like typhoid and cholera by 40%.
“So the intervention became immediate for me and that’s when I thought we have a solution for kids in Africa, Latin America, Asia that die every year.”
Based in Atlanta, Kayongo started the Global Soap Project in 2009 by going door to door, pitching his lifesaving idea to local hotels. So far, some 300 hotels across the United States have joined Kayongo’s cause, enabling him and his team to reprocess thousands of soap bars and ship them to 18 developing countries.
The recycled soap is only released for shipment once a sample is tested for pathogens and deemed safe by a third-party laboratory. The Global Soap Project then works with partner organizations to ship and distribute the soap directly to people who need it for free.