YOUR USED BAR OF HOTEL SOAP HAS A SURPRISING AFTERLIFE

In the world's outcry over waste -- paper, plastics, fumes, foods -- your hotel soap ain't exactly a crisis. Still, everyone has wondered at least once: Where do all those once-used bars go?

Not to the next guest, for sure. Heck, to be a five diamond property, a hotel’s staff must replace your soap daily, even if it wasn't touched. That amounts to a lot of fine-smelling garbage: Travelers and hotels combine to toss out roughly a million bars a day in the US and perhaps 5 million bars a day worldwide.

But it’s not all waste. If you’re staying at certain hotels, your hair-streaked, Italian-milled body bar might be going toward fighting diseases around the world. An Orlando-based company called Clean the World has taken to collecting used hotel soap, melting it down, and making new soap to send to impoverished countries. They're saving landfill space locally, and perhaps saving lives globally.

Who thinks that much about soap?

Shawn Seipler, that’s who. In a previous life, Seipler worked for a tech company and found himself on the road nearly five months out of the year. One night he was looking at a bar of soap he’d used once, and pondered its fate.

“I called down to the front desk and asked what they did with all the leftover soap,” he says. The reply: It got tossed. The more Seipler looked into the situation, the more appalled he was at the scale of the waste in America. "That," he says, "is when I learned about rebatching.”

Rebatching is a process that converts old soap into fresh soap: melting it down, reforming it, and turning it back out good as new. Once he learned soap could be recycled, Seipler began to research its uses. He found that, worldwide, thousands of children die every day from ailments such as pneumonia and diarrhea, both of which the World Health Organization finds are largely preventable with proper hygiene.

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photos: MATT MELTZER/THRILLIST

Comments
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thomashalloc
thomashalloc

hmm interesting question

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