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Raising the Bar on Health and Hygiene in Guatemala

If ever you feel down in the dumps, consider the people who live there.

Clean the World and several passionate hospitality partners traveled to Guatemala in March to distribute freshly pressed soap bars to children and families in disadvantaged communities, some of whom live in the dumps — literally.

Accompanying Clean the World staff members Rosanna Kingston and Holly Boland on this particular soap distribution trip were William Kellock and Becki Greif from Concord Hospitality, Keith Levit and Lois Hefling from Lakeview Hotels & Resorts in Canada, and Blair and Brooke Christianson from Canalta Hotels in Canada.

Venturing into the landfill to find families in need of better hygiene was simple in theory, but difficult in practice. The roughly 20,000 individuals who live on the edge of the Guatemala City Dumps struggle daily for survival, and the gift of a fresh bar of soap is a welcome and necessary hygiene product to stop the spread of disease, and also a bit of fresh-smelling hope for a cleaner, healthier life.

Demand for hygiene products is immense in this very poor region of Guatemala where children often pick through the landfill trash to find food, clothing, and other basic items just to survive. While it is difficult to imagine the daily struggles faced by individuals living in such poverty, it was a relief to see the smiles on faces of many, particularly the children, when they received soaps distributed by Clean the World and its adventurous partners in hygiene.

Keith Levit, president of Lakeview Hotels, is also a professional photographer. He captured many of the dramatic images of this soap distribution journey, which are highlighted in this photo gallery.

A total of nearly 13,000 soap bars were distributed in various locations surrounding Guatemala City, including 5,000 at the Guatemala City Dumps; 5,000 at Maria Teresa Ghetto; 2,000 at Hogar Solidario Virgen de la Esperanza Orphanage in Guatemala City; and nearly 1,000 at Dorie’s Promise Guatemala Orphanage.

The visit to Dorie’s Promise, a privately-run orphanage owned by Forever Changed International from which 400 orphans have been adopted into loving homes, really had an impact on at least one member of the group.

“It is incredible for me to see how they have been able to look out for these children, giving them a better life than they clearly had before,” says Concord Hospitality’s Kellock. “I am looking for the opportunity to spread the word about the great work that is being done here.”

Clean the World has scheduled a second trip to Guatemala in late April, which will feature more soap distribution adventures and include hospitality partners from Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Clean the World celebrity spokesperson Mariana Klaveno.


Starwood Passes Sustainability Milestone

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Passes Sustainability Milestone with Clean the World – More than 50,000 Hotel Rooms Recycling Soaps and Bottled Amenities

Collection of guest room amenities in less than one year exceeds 278,000 lbs. of hygiene products recycled and distributed to stop the spread of preventable diseases worldwide

Less than one year after becoming corporate partners, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) has reached a significant sustainability milestone with Clean the World Foundation Inc.

Starwood, one of the world’s leading hotel and leisure companies, has surpassed 50,000 hotel rooms participating in the Clean the World amenities recycling program. The hotel rooms represent nearly 30 percent of the total Starwood properties in North America.

Clean the World and Starwood announced a corporate partnership on Earth Day, 2011. Since joining Clean the World’s hospitality partnership program, Starwood properties have contributed more than 278,000 lbs. of hygiene products – soaps, shampoos, conditioners, body washes, and lotions – which would have been discarded as trash were it not for recycling efforts provided by Clean the World.

Clean the World Foundation Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization committed to stopping the spread of preventable diseases by collecting, recycling and distributing hotel guest room amenities to children and families in the United States, Canada, and more than 45 countries. Additionally, Clean the World has helped divert more than 1.4 million lbs. of hotel waste from local landfills through its sustainable and socially responsible efforts.

Through a series of webinars with Starwood properties and a strategic internal marketing and communications campaign, Starwood has steadily added properties to Clean the World’s growing list of more than 1,300 hospitality partners in North America. There are now 150 Starwood properties, representing all brands, enrolled in the Clean the World amenities recycling program, up from 31 individual properties when the corporate agreement was announced last year.

“Our goal in the first year of participation with Clean the World was to achieve 25% adoption among our North American properties, and we have exceeded that goal,” says Jennifer Bauchner, director of rooms and sustainability, Starwood North America Operations. “Once our property managers understand the environmental and social impact of amenities recycling and how that leads to employee engagement and customer interest , they are eager  to support Clean the World.”

Each day 9,000 children around the world die from diseases such as acute respiratory illness and diarrheal diseases that can be prevented by washing with bar soap. Clean the World has a mission to put soap in the hands of people who need it most to improve hygiene and sanitation conditions and to lessen the impact of disease and promote better hygiene and living conditions worldwide.

“Starwood has been a remarkable partner from the start and this milestone is an example of how corporate support can lead to adoption of sustainable and socially responsible initiatives at individual properties,” says Shawn Seipler, co-founder at CEO at Clean the World. “As our first corporate partner, Starwood recognizes the value of our comprehensive amenities recycling program and the social good it can provide with the proper encouragement and investment on the local level.”

Clean the World recently achieved a major milestone with the global distribution of more than 10 million soap bars in just three years of operation. The soaps are often packaged as part of sustainable hygiene kits, which include recycled bottled amenities and other hygiene-related items collected from Clean the World hotel partners throughout North America. Recent distributions of soaps and hygiene kits have been made in East Timor, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Madagascar, Nicaragua, and Sierra Leone.


National Volunteer Week – April 15-21

While it seems like every week is volunteer week at Clean the World, the calendar makes this one official.

April 15-21 is National Volunteer Week and there will be a lot of soap recycling going on in Orlando and Las Vegas to help advance our global hygiene revolution.

More than 5,000 volunteers have helped Clean the World recycle and distribute more than 10 million soap bars in just three years of operation. We’d love to welcome another 5,000 this year alone to help us grow exponentially in the immediate future to address the hygiene needs of children and families worldwide. In fact, we love volunteers so much we even created a video about them. Click here!

Rosanna Kingston, volunteer coordinator at Clean the World headquarters in Orlando, anticipates increased participation among school, church and community groups in the coming months.

“We’re heading toward the end of the school year and many students are trying to accumulate community service credits,” she says. “We always welcome students and adults to help us sanitize soap, sort bottled amenities, and help us put together hygiene kits for distribution in disadvantaged communities. I think we’ll see more activity during National Volunteer Week and through the Spring and Summer months as we continue to save lives with soap.”

Volunteer opportunities also exist in Clean the World’s Las Vegas facility where volunteer coordinator Kevin Williams regularly sets bottled amenities aside for eager volunteers.

“There are so many bottles to sort and separate — shampoos, conditioners, body lotions and body washes,” he says. “With so many amenities coming in from each day from our generous Western regional partners, there is no shortage of volunteer opportunities for anyone willing to jump in and give us a hand.”

Clean the World volunteers are encouraged to join us this Saturday, April 21, in Orlando at a Volunteer Carnival sponsored by Heart of Florida United Way. Volunteers will staff the Clean the World booth and help assemble 150 hygiene kits for homeless individuals and disadvantaged children in central Florida.

If you’d like to join in the volunteer fun this week or any other, please contact Rosanna Kingston (rkingston@ctw2.wpstagecoach.com) in Orlando or Kevin Williams (kwilliams@ctw2.wpstagecoach.com) in Las Vegas to schedule a volunteer visit and help Clean the World.


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