Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How every B & B can help: Recycling Soap. Saving Lives.

Early in the career of every Innkeeper, you ask yourself: "What am I going to do with all this leftover soap?" This week, after twenty years in this business, I found the answer. And found a wonderful way to help the less fortunate.


Nelson House B & B is now the first bed and breakfast in Canada to partner with Clean the World Foundation, a Florida not-for-profit corporation that is rapidly expanding north of the border.

Clean the World has a straightforward two-part mission:
1.Reduce the waste created by discarded soap and shampoo products.
2.Prevent the millions of deaths caused by hygiene-related illnesses every year.

Did you know that the two biggest killers of Children under the age of 5 can be greatly reduced by soap intervention? According to the World Health Organization, 34 per cent of these children die from diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections that are preventable with simple, basic hygiene. The problem is that a family earning a few dollars a day will put food and shelter needs over the purchase of a "luxury", like a bar of soap.

Since its beginnings in 2009, Clean the World  has hundreds of hotels and many B & Bs tossing their partly used soap and shampoo bottles into recycling bins for local pick-up. Here in Vancouver, CTW has just opened a recycling and processing centre employing women at risk, who reside in Vancouver's downtown eastside. A second Canadian centre will open soon in Toronto. At these Centres, the more heavily used soaps are cooked to remove impurities and rebatched into 2-ounce bars. The majority of only slightly used soaps are put through a patent-pending sanitization, steam and pressure process. PH levels are tested and the soap is repackaged to go out to those most in need.

In the last year, reputable NGOs like World Vision have helped to distribute over five million soap bars, and 250,000 pounds of shampoo and conditioner in countries such as Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Swaziland, Mali, Mongolia, Uganda, Honduras, Romania, the United States and soon, to the needy in Canada too.

I personally encourage every hotel and B & B innkeeper reading this to stop sending your guest soaps and shampoo to the landfill! Use your good business sense - go green, give back, help others!  If you stay in B & Bs, please ask your innkeeper if they have heard of this simple Win-Win solution. Here is the Clean the World link to get going.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Biking from the B & B

Photos Courtesy of City of Vancouver

One of the great advantages of Nelson House's central location is the ability to do without a car. First of all, the peninsula that comprises "downtown Vancouver" is only about 15 by 21 blocks and almost surrounded by water. If you are a healthy walker, these are not NYC blocks and most folks can do one end to the other in a half hour. If going further afield or unable to do things on foot, Robson Street buses are as close as three blocks away and they will connect you to the Skytrain, the Seabus and the entire public transit system. 

Even more fun, especially in summer, is the opportunity to rent a bike and explore more of the city at a leisurely wheeling pace. Public Seawalls border all of the downtown shoreline. Many more miles of beaches and parks heading westwards along English Bay are laced together by offstreet paved bikeways. Since the shorelines are at sea level - just think - no hills - and non-stop views!!

A cluster of bike rental shops are within a ten minute stroll from the B & B. Our guests are welcome to bring their own bikes from home or keep the rentals overnight in locked and easily accessible storage in our basement.

The City of Vancouver alone offers 400 "lane-kilometres". That's about 250 miles of one and two way bike routes. The City is currently adding separated bike lanes for safer bicycling in the business core.

And then there are the Naked Bike Rides. Visitors to Vancouver can be a little surprised the first time they witness hundreds of nude bicyclists cheerily pedaling by on a sunny afternoon.