What Have We Done?

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As we approach Thanksgiving, we arrive at another moment for Clean the World to reflect and give thanks for the incredible movement that has begun and the results it has driven. If I may ask yet another question: “What Have We Done?”

In 2009, we set out to solve a problem: How do we prevent partially used hotel soaps and bottled amenities from being discarded in landfills, and instead distribute these lifesaving hygiene products to those in desperate need all around the world? Little did we know that in solving this problem, together with the worldwide hospitality industry, we would lead a Global Hygiene Revolution!
The industry has responded in an incredible way. And we are thankful!

To date, millions of bars of soap have been collected and distributed by Clean the World and our more than 1,200 hotel partners across North America — more than 9 million bars of soap to be exact!

And in establishing our leadership in this field as the first and foremost recycler of hotel amenities, we have learned about individual hospitality industry efforts, such as Rosen Hotels in Orlando, Fla., with their in-house program that delivers recycled soap to Haiti.

Most recently, the Hilton Worldwide – Global Soap Project social enterprise has been formed to ensure that Hilton soaps are recycled and distributed to those in need on a regular basis. This is great news for the children and families who will receive recycled soaps. Our efforts created demand for these hygiene products, and success always invites imitation.

Clean the World has also collected and either recycled OR re-purposed and re-distributed more than 500 tons of plastic bottled amenities from North American hotels. And so many more hotels are making it a regular practice to partner with local shelters, missions, and food kitchens to make sure that all of those little bottles of shampoo and bath gel that still have product in them, are being used to the final drop.

Ladies and Gentlemen- We have started a Global Hygiene Revolution! And hotels across North America are now faced with a wonderful decision: to recycle their soap and bottled amenities after use or send them to landfills. Why is this a “wonderful” decision? Because as the tremendous, positive response continues, it will lead to more children receiving soap worldwide!

And the revolution is still in its infancy. We’ve only just begun. In 3 years, Clean the World’s soap distribution efforts (9 million bars) combined with others such as Global Soap (150,000 bars) have no doubt resulted in an incredible amount of recycled bars of soap delivered to children and families around the world. But in that same time that we have operated, more than one Billion bars of soap have landed in North American landfills. Yes, Billion with a “B”! And millions of pounds of plastic have unnecessarily arrived there as well.

We cannot stop what we have started! We must continue to adopt and implement soap and plastic bottle recycling programs. Some may say that these programs come at a cost and therefore cannot be implemented today. Indeed there is a cost to participate: from the time and talent it takes each housekeeper, every day to collect these items, to the $0.02 per day cost to operate Clean the World’s Hospitality Recycling Program OR the shipping and material cost to operate other programs.

If you cannot justify the expense today, please budget for it in the future. For such a small financial outlay, these programs are making an incredible impact! As one who has had the privilege and honor of personally delivering tens of thousands of bars of soap to children in tent cities in Haiti and in homeless shelters across the United States, the impact is being felt and is realized daily!

We call upon the global hospitality community to keep the movement strong! One way to do so is for all hoteliers, meeting professionals, and soap and bottle recyclers to continue to communicate the impact that we are all making. Communicating quantifiable results to the industry and public is a great way to do this. It is one of the most effective ways to create awareness and drive positive results from our collective customers. Clean the World will begin posting on the home page of our site the actual amount of diverted landfill waste (soap and bottled amenities), as well as the amount of recycled and distributed hygiene products.

And in December, in addition to regular Impact Statements provided to our hotel and meeting professional partners, we will provide our partners web tools to assist in effectively displaying and communicating the actual sustainable and socially responsible impact that they have made.

In 3 years, and with 1.7 million pounds of inbound product collection, Clean the World has processed and distributed more than 85% of the collected product with outbound trucks, pallets and boxes of product daily! On behalf of those receiving the soap and bottled amenities that we deliver, we applaud Clean the World hotel partners and all who are using some method to recycle these desperately needed hygiene products. And we offer special thanks to the more than 5,000 volunteers who have dedicated their time and talent to make Clean the World a success in such a short period of time.

Thank you to the Clean the World Hospitality Partners who have joined, and continued to join, our Global Hygiene Revolution: Walt Disney World Resorts, Central Florida Marriott Business Council, The Peabody Orlando/ Memphis, and Caesars Entertainment; Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Carlson Hotels, Best Western International, Marriott Vacation Club International, and Joie de Vivre Hotels; Mandarin Oriental, Larkspur Hotels,  Preferred Hotel Group, Lakeview Hotels and Resorts, and Bellstar Hotels and Resorts; Canalta Hotels, Concord Hospitality, Hersha Hospitality, Kana Hotel Group, and Kelco Management; Wynn/ Encore, Venetian/ Palazzo, The City of Laguna Beach, Calif., and the Las Vegas Strip; all of the Meeting Professionals, the 165 individual Marriott properties, the 100 individual Wyndham Worldwide properties, and the 100 individual Hilton Worldwide properties; Gilchrist & Soames, Marietta Corporation, and LATHER.

Now, look what you’ve done!

Happy Thanksgiving,
Shawn Seipler
CEO, Clean the World


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