You’re probably not really thinking about that half used bar of soap you left in the shower of your hotel. Totally cool. It’s a throw away object (to the tune of 2.6 million bars per day in the US). But, as it turns out, it’s one that thousands of hotels have been turning into a way to stave disease and death in places where even the most budget hotel might begin to look like a palace.
Here’s what’s been going on—a NGO called the Global Soap Project has organized to collect the remnants of your hotel soap, melt them down, disinfect them and ship them off to impoverished refugee camps, areas destroyed by natural disasters and places that are teaming with indigent populations. So far they’ve helped in 28 places like Haiti, Congo, Uganda, Afghanistan, Bangladesh (check the full list here).
So it’s just soap, right? What’s the big deal? Staying alive actually. The simple act of washing hands can cut childhood morbidity rates in these destitute areas almost in half.
Thousands of hotels in the US participate, from the big guys at the Intercontinental, W Hotel, Marriot, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Doubletree, Sheraton, Hyatt to smaller local hotels participate (the full list can be found here). And a big congrats to the JW Marriot San Antonio Hill County who, last week clocked in as 2012′s #1 donor — 9,223 pounds worth of soap.
Individuals can get on board by emailing hotels to request they participate, sending financial donations or, if you happen to be in the Atlanta area, volunteering time at the soap recycling center.