CSR With Hotel Soap and “Clean the World”

Have you ever given much thought to what happens to those little bars of soap that you come across in hotel rooms? What happens when you open one of those neatly packaged bars and use it? Perhaps you don’t even finish it and leave it there and assume housekeeping will throw it away. According the Clean the World, hotels discard millions of pounds of soap and shampoo in the U.S. These products often end up in already overflowing landfills and contaminate fragile groundwater systems.

Clean the World is a non-profit organization that distributes recycled soap products, along with appropriate educational materials to impoverished communities  and to domestic homeless shelters. According to them, each year more than five million lives are lost to severe respiratory diseases with the majority of deaths being among children less than five years old. Studies have shown that simple hand washing substantially reduces the spread of these diseases. Unfortunately, the essential items for proper hand washing are unobtainable for millions of people worldwide.

They have developed a process to sanitize used hotel soap and leftover shampoo. They reform the soap into new bars and then send it to parts of the world that can use it. They have also partnered with a number of hotel chains to collect all the little bars of used soap.  Many hotels have also partnered with Clean the World as part of their CSR initiatives to ensure that soap is recycled effectively. In just two years of operation, the NGO has distributed more than 8 million bars of soap to children and families in the U.S and more than 40 countries including Haiti, Japan, Zimbabwe, Uganda, India, Honduras, Mexico and Albania.

Starwood Hotels recently became the first corporate partner of Clean the World in an effort to ensure that their soap and shampoo is recycled. Starwood has about 500 hotels all around North America which means an estimated 1.6 million pounds of hotel soap may be recycled each year through this partnership. Clean the World also has hospitality partnerships in place with more than 1,000 hotel properties around the globe. Starwood brands include St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and Element SM.

“Our North American properties represent more than 176,000 rooms, each of which offer the highest quality soaps and bottled amenities to our guests on a daily basis,” says Denise Coll, president of Starwood Hotels in North America. “This partnership amplifies our commitment to CSR, and it also should make every member of our Starwood family feel better about the role they play each day in caring for our Earth and the people who inhabit it.”

The next time you check into a hotel, see if they have a partnership with Clean the World and if they don’t, suggest it to them.

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net

3 responses

  1. I find it sad that all hotels do not do this. I travel a lot, and get very upset when hotels have signs about a towel on the ground means I’m dirty one hanging up means I will reuse. I hang my towel, come back to the room, and my towel is gone and I have clean towels. The worst is if I do use the shampoo, soap in the room, and they discard the partially used bottle. Hotels need to be scrutinized for these practices.

  2. I think this idea is great…I have traveled around and know how much a little surprise like this can mean to people that have next to nothing, it makes their day for a long time and they can’t wait til next time, like receiving a nice gift…it helps with not spreading desease and other harms…I just want to help them, I think this is sooo great!!

Leave a Reply