I recently came across an article about an organization called the Global Soap Project. I found it noteworthy and thought I would share their vision with my readers. It was started by a Ugandan humanitarian and social entrepreneur Derreck Kayongo during his first stay in a U.S. hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the early 1990s.
“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%.
Kayongo says an estimated 2.6 million bars of soap are discarded every day from hotels in the United States . So far, some 300 hotels across the United States have joined the Global Soap Project, enabling them to reprocess thousands of bars of soap and ship them to 18 developing countries. And, in case you’re wondering, you should know the recycled soap is only released for shipment once a sample is tested for pathogens and deemed safe by a third-party laboratory.
Among those 300 hotels is Hilton Worldwide, who in addition to collecting and contributing used soap bars from its hotels, also committed to investing $1.3 Million over 3-years as well as their operational expertise to help the Global Soap Project expand further.
Based in Atlanta, Kayongo started the Global Soap Project in 2009, he originally re-cycled the soap into new bars in his basement. Today, he runs the Global Soap Project from a warehouse in Atlanta, with the help of volunteers from all across the United States, determined to improve the quality of lives in the developing world.
He says his goal for this year is to make a million bars of soap. “If you want to do big things and you want to bring big change then you have to be able to give in a big way,” he says.
“So I say ‘travel, use the soap’ because that soap goes eventually to help refugees, orphans. This is not about Africa per se, it’s about the collective good as humans to solve problems and that’s what we are trying to do.”
The cause has also inspired individuals to get involved and contribute to the Global Soap Project efforts. Maren Johnson, a teenager in South Dakota, heard about it from her mother and began efforts to collect soap from South Dakota hotels. She is collaborating with the Minnesota Chapter of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) to centralize collection and shipping of soap to Atlanta for all participating properties in the midwest. Marie Labropoulos, owner of the Kalliste Soap Shop in Scarsdale, NY, held a fund-raiser when she heard of Global Soap Project.
Check out their website to get more information, volunteer or make donations.