What does “sustainability” mean to you? Well, it means the world to us.
Clean the World is honored to have been selected as the winner of the 2011 Sustainable Florida Best Practices Award in the Leadership category. The awards are presented annually by The Collins Center for Public Policy, a prestigious non-profit think tank based in Tallahassee, Fla.
The 2011 Sustainable Florida Best Practices Award recognizes Clean the World’s emergence as the worldwide leader and industry standard for soap and amenities recycling in the hospitality industry, and the launch of a “global hygiene revolution” centered on recycling soap to save lives. The award also looks ahead to Clean the World’s future development of new, sustainable and socially responsible programs and services for the global hospitality community.
Shawn Seipler, co-founder and executive director at Clean the World, accepted the award at a June 2 ceremony hosted by The Plaza Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach, one of Clean the World’s 160 hospitality partners in Florida among a network of more than 1,000 hospitality partners throughout North America. Partners include some of the biggest names in the hospitality industry: Starwood Hotels and Resorts, The Walt Disney World Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, Mandarin Oriental, Gilchrist & Soames, Marietta Corporation and many individual hotel flags and brands, including Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, IHG and Joie de Vivre Hotels.
“This is not an individual award, but one that is shared by every employee, every volunteer, every hospitality partner and every person who has ever contributed or received soaps and hygiene supplies from Clean the World,” says Shawn Seipler, co-founder and executive director of Clean the World. “We could not do this without you, and we are truly blessed and privileged to have received such support for our efforts to recycle soap and save lives.”
Clean the World took home the honor in the face of stiff competition because of its creativity in identifying an environmentally friendly opportunity that would help improve overall sustainability in the hospitality industry and beyond. Some other winners of 2011 Sustainable Florida Best Practice awards include Universal Orlando, Baptist Health South Florida, the City of Tallahassee, and Miami Corporation.
Sustainability goes beyond simple recycling of products or an isolated promotion of so-called “green” initiatives by companies, organizations and municipalities. Sustainability also includes the promise of attracting “green” jobs to Florida and the development of an economically viable industry, such as soap and hotel amenities recycling, that could generate revenues for Florida, federal and global businesses. On this score, Clean the World has proven itself a winner.
“Two years ago, there was no market for recycled soap,” Seipler says. “When [co-founder and managing director] Paul Till and I started this organization no one had ever done this before on such a grand scale. Now, more than 1,000 hotel partners have helped pioneer our success, and we’ve created more than 30 jobs in Florida and at least 12 more in other states and Canadian provinces. Our business model is sustainable, and the market reaction to our services has been enthusiastic. We’re looking forward to managing our growth in the immediate future and to the development of an array of sustainable, socially responsible solutions to maximize our efforts in the hospitality industry and accomplish the most good.”
And speaking of sustainability, there’s also the impact Clean the World is having on local landfills. Because of the success of its hotel amenities recycling program, Clean the World has also fulfilled a valuable environmental mission by diverting an estimated 550 tons of hotel waste from polluting landfills in the United States and Canada.
Perhaps what impressed judges most about Clean the World was the simplicity of the eco-friendly idea to collect, recycle and distribute hotel soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions and gels to help stop the spread of disease worldwide. In just two years of operation, Clean the World has distributed more than 8 million bars of soap to children and families in the United States and more than 40 countries.
The soaps and education about proper hand washing are used to battle the top two killers of children younger than 5 years old – acute respiratory infection (pneumonia) and diarrheal diseases (cholera). These two diseases claim 3.5 million lives each year, especially in developing nations where soap is considered a luxury, not a necessity. Research shows that more than 60 percent of these deaths can be prevented by simple, regular hand washing with bar soap.
“It’s humbling and amazing to think that Clean the World has grown in just two years from experimenting with soap recycling in my kitchen at home to having recycling centers in Orlando, Las Vegas, Vancouver and Toronto,” Seipler says. “Leadership plays a part, but so do the tireless efforts of all who have touched this organization, in practice and in prayer, to help support our mission to save lives. This is a global hygiene revolution that we are leading, and it starts right here in Florida. It’s a big world out there. We’re just getting started.”