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Inspired to Change History: A motivational guest post from Shawn Seipler of Clean the World
Posted on November 15, 2009 in Causes, Inspiration

Clean the World co-founder Shawn Seipler has provided m-cause with a very motivational guest post today. In the post, Shawn talks about his burning desire to change his life and help others. Shawn will get you fired up to go out there and make some change this holiday season–and beyond! So enjoy the guest post…big thanks to Shawn!

Have you ever gotten up in the morning and felt absolutely convinced that you could change history? I mean, you can see change right in front of you- an opportunity to alter something in the current state of our world that would change history. Well, I am at that point in my life and I dare to say that many of you are either there, or could be there and you may just not know it.

I’m Shawn Seipler, Executive Director of Clean the World. It was only a year ago that I sat in another hotel room for around the one hundredth time, leaving my beautiful wife and four children again, longing for something different. I needed to figure something else out…my own business maybe? I wanted to be more in control of my work schedule and I didn’t want to leave my family anymore, or at least I wanted to do it on my terms.

Looking around the room, I began to think, am I changing history? No way, I’m just trying to figure out something different…

Because I typically traveled to multiple cities in any given week, I only took carry on luggage which means my bags were always heavy and extremely packed to brim. Every time I left a hotel room after 1 or 2 nights, I left the little soaps and shampoos behind as I had no room in my bags for them and, frankly, I didn’t really need them. So now I began thinking about this habit specifically. How many other travelers like me do not take their soap and bottled amenities with them upon checkout? And, what do the hotels do with these used items? Certainly they do not give them to other guest or return them. A quick call to the front desk and I got my answer- these items are thrown away. Hmmmm, now maybe I’m on to something, especially because one of the major topics of the day is green business, eco-friendliness and sustainability.

Weeks later I called my long time friend and business colleague Paul Till and began sharing my thoughts with him around hotel soap and shampoo. He was very intrigued about the notion of these items being thrown away, discarded into landfills. Can they be recycled? If they could be recycled, what could we do with them? Paul went to work, trying to find answers to these questions.

Then, the “Aha moments” began to come more frequently. Paul discovered that millions of children die each year from diseases that could be prevented with proper hygiene. Clinical studies show 40 – 65% reductions in these diseases by hand washing with bar soap alone. Some studies even claim that millions of lives can be saved with soap interventions. Furthermore, soap is toxic to water systems and not very good for landfill space. And of course, we all know about plastic bottles…

Wait just a moment here, were we finally on to something? Were we finally in a place where we could change history?

Together, Paul and I founded Clean the World. Our non-profit charitable organization that collects the partially used soap and shampoo from hotel rooms, recycles these items, and then distributes them to domestic homeless shelters and impoverished people worldwide to save lives.

Here is a portion of a letter I recently wrote for Clean the World’s newsletter, giving you more details on our organization:

3.5 million children under the age of 5 will die this year to two deadly diseases- acute respiratory infection (pneumonia) and diarrheal disease. This means 9000 times today, across the world, a mother will bury her child that died yesterday or the day before. And tomorrow, another 9,000 funerals will take place. Over the next hour, 375 boys or girls will lose their baby brother or baby sister forever.

 Even more tragic than these staggering facts is that these deaths could be prevented by up to 65% through simple hand washing with bar soap. Today, in the United States alone, we will throw away between 1 – 1.5 million bars of soap. That’s only in the U.S. How much soap do you think will be discarded worldwide today?

 9,000 children’s lives lost, half can be prevented with bar soap, and we will throw away ~1.5 million bars of soap in the U.S. alone.

We can prevent tons of needless landfill waste daily, protect our precious water systems, and even change cultures across the globe in an incredibly short period of time. It is not only possible, but dare I say it is our calling. For us, the employees and volunteers of Clean the World, we believe this to be true: We have been called to change history! We have been called to save these lives! We have been called to remove acute respiratory illness and diarrheal disease, the #1 and #4 killers worldwide respectively, off the Top 10 Killer list now and forever!

Clean the World Hospitality Partners have joined the movement. Volunteers, individuals and organizations are helping every day. And today, I ask you to join in our cause: Please be a part of Changing History in Our Lifetime!

So now, I’m asking you this. Was I changing history the moment I began to think about doing something else? Was I changing history when I called the front lobby to see if how soap was being thrown away after each visit? Was Paul changing history when he researched deadly diseases that could be prevented through proper hygiene? Absolutely! All of these little moments led us to our history changing venture and I can tell you this: similar instances and opportunities present themselves to you every day. Moments to ask a question or moments to find a solution. moments to make a small difference that may change history for a single person or an entire planet. If you could change history for one individual, would you?

As we approach the holidays, you know there are many ways that you can help. You can volunteer time at a food bank or donate money to a charity…all important activities in this great time of need. Just encouraging a child, or simply speaking to someone who needs you to listen can help. Do you have an idea? Pursue it! Do you have a dream? Go after it! You just simply never know.

So I conclude by asking you to do something simple, yet so incredibly profound: change history in your lifetime!

Ladies and gentlemen, I am not overstating or dramatizing this very clear notion and vision of Clean the World: We can Change History in our Lifetime!


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