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Used Hotel Soaps Help Prevent Disease In Developing Countries

Two articles examine efforts to recycle used hotel soaps to help prevent disease in developing countries.

  • The Associated Press/Washington Post profiled the efforts of Atlanta-based Derreck Kayongo, a Ugandan “anti-poverty advocate.” Kayongo has launched “the Global Soap Project, an effort to help his country’s poorest – one used bar of hotel soap at a time,” the AP/Washington Post writes.

“In his African homeland, the cost of soap is out of reach for many, often with tragic consequences. In 2004, the World Health Organization found roughly 15 percent of deaths among Ugandan children under age 5 resulted from diarrheal diseases, many of which could be prevented through hand sanitation.” To get the soaps ready for use, Kayongo separates them according to hotel brand, washes away surface dirt, and then melts the soap in a high-temperature oven.

“For the Global Soap Project, Kayongo says he has gathered 10,000 pounds of used hotel soap from 60 hotels in Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. Hotels collect lightly used bars which they place in bins. One of Kayongo’s 10 volunteers takes the bars to a donated warehouse near Atlanta that he’s using.” The first shipment is scheduled to be sent later this month (Walker, 10/12).  

  • CBS Evening News examines the nonprofit Clean the World. Salesmen Shawn Seipler and Paul Till started the group, which sends used hotel soaps to Haiti. “‘There are 4.6 million hotel rooms across the United States,’ Seipler said. ‘We started doing the math and figured that’s a lot of soap that’s being tossed out.'”

According to CBS, “Worldwide, 2 million people die every year from diarrhea, often caused by poor sanitation. Most are under the age of five, 8,000 children in Haiti alone. Studies suggest simple hand washing could cut those deaths by up to 30 percent.” However, this can be a challenge in Haiti. “In a market in Cap-Haitien, a woman sells soap for a little less than a dollar a bar, which doesn’t sound like much, but you’ve got to consider that three-quarters of Haiti’s population lives on less than $2 a day,” CBS writes (Doane, 10/12).