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.


  1. Brilliant idea! Need more info to start a project like this in Maine.

  2. I used to live on Broughton St. next to the B & B on Haro. We loved the kitchen aromas that woke us up on the weekends. Now, we are in North Van. I love the idea of the reusing of soaps and shampoos. I will pass on the info. to my son's school and any other hotels we use. Like your blog. Take care.

  3. Thank you Denise & Gorio. The very best ideas are simple. My research tells me that very little of this organization's income is diverted to administration, yet they have designed a model that promises to be sustainable. Please spread the good word!


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