Amenities or basic necessity?

Let’s be honest: who has never taken those mini toiletries home after staying at a hotel? Yes, the mini soap, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner that are part of the bathroom kits hotels normally give their guests?

Don’t feel judged; we are not blaming those who own a whole collection of mini soaps at home with the excuse that they may come in handy one day. But what happens with the leftover used soaps left at the hotel after a guest’s stay is over? Or, Or, can you give a new life to that leftover soap that is at home, but already too small and always slipping out of your hands?

The answer is yes! Although many still end up in the bin, soap recycling is possible and a thing it can helps save human lives. It seems hard to understand, but the complimentary kits that hotels offer to their guests may become basic necessity hygiene kits to be distributed to families in need all around the world.

Amenities? What does it mean?

Amenities are intended to make life more pleasant or comfortable. In the context of tourism, it is the expression used for toiletries such as mini soaps, shampoo, shower gel and other accessories that play an important role in the comfort and satisfaction of guests.

How can a soap save a life?

The importance of washing your hands with soap and water has been explained exhaustively because of the pandemic. But the truth is that hand washing is not only important during this period: it is always important, as it protects us from various “common” and potentially fatal diseases.

By 2020, about 30% of the world’s population did not have access to basic hand-washing facilities. In developing countries, only one in every three persons had access to basic hygiene, making these populations especially vulnerable to infectious diseases.

Person soaping hands, close to an outdoor tap.

A simple hand washing with soap and water eliminates bacteria, viruses and germs, oftentimes responsible for diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, diphtheria, the flu, acute respiratory infections, parasitic infections, Ebola and cholera. That’s why a soap can really save a life. And so does soap recycling. The recycling of the millions of used soaps that are left over in hotels every year, can save the lives of hundreds of families, entire villages, even.

Did you know?

With one soap bar you can wash your hands up to 180 times.

How do used soaps become a new ready-to-use soap bar?

“What happens to the used soap bars I leave behind?” was the question Shawn Seipler asked at the receptions of several hotels where he used to spend the night on business trips. The answer, always the same, was that they were thrown away. And this was the answer that motivated the creation of Clean the World in 2009.

Seipler gathered some friends, a handful of potato peelers, a couple meat mincers, and several pots in his garage in Florida, USA, and began the soap recycling. The raw material? Kilos of used soaps given to him by hotels. This entrepreneur invented a way to recycle soap, by turning the leftovers into brand new soap bars that would then be distributed to families and children without access to soap. The Clean the World initiative grew rapidly and got too big for a small Florida garage. It spread, first to several cities in the United States, and then to several countries in the world.

The organization has now the support of global tourism giants such as Marriott, IHG, Hyatt and Mandarin Oriental. The Hilton group alone has helped Clean the World distribute more than 7.5 million soap bars over the past decade by recycling leftover soap from all of the group’s companies. over the past decade by recycling soaps from all of the group’s companies. This is the equivalent of keeping about 1,000 tons of soap and liquid soap bottles out of landfills and dumps.

How to use all your leftover soap at home?

You know those little bits and pieces of soap that you usually throw away? Exactly those. You can use all of it, no matter how small, thin, or limp they are.

  • Foaming shower mitt

    One way is to gather all this bits and pieces and put them inside a shower mitt. When showering, you can use this soapy mitt to lather and, just like that, use every last bit of soap.

  • Fresheners and moth repellents

    You can turn your leftover soap pieces into drawer fresheners and moth repellents. Put the dry pieces of soap in a paper bag in which you poked some holes, staple the bag opening together, and place a bag of this homemade freshener inside each drawer, cupboard or storage box – mould-less and moth-less.

Person making soap using a small pan on an electric plate.
  • New soap

    In case you are a fan of DIY, you can even make a new soap bar from the bits you have at home, with artisanal soap recycling. All you have to do is put the pieces of soap in a pan, cover them with water, and let all these pieces soak overnight. If the pieces are too large, you can grate them with a cheese grater before putting them in the pan. The next day, bring this pan to a heat and stir always so that the (half melted) soap does not stick to the bottom. When the soap is completely melted, remove from the heat, and add one tablespoon of vegetable oil for every 200 ml of liquid. Once well mixed, pour this liquid mixture into moulds of your choice, slightly greased with vegetable oil beforehand. And, just like that, you’ll have a new soap bar to use.