Put your inner magpie to good use

I’ve been trying for a while now to inviegle the masses (you) to collect your soaps and shampoos as you wander the globe staying in one hotel after the other. You (or your company) has already paid a hefty price for the room and methinks that the soaps, etc., are included in this price. A fair logic, no?

Add this to the fact that each of us has a little magpie in us – that fleeting thought that says – oh, I might need that when I next go camping or I could use those for my guests. We drop a couple of the unopened bottles in our toilet bag and then hoard them at home – never used.

When I was in Alaska I collected these miniatures and then donated them to a local shelter for victims of domestic violence. It’s not too difficult to imagine that when your life is upside down, when you’ve had to flee your home for fear of your life, when the man (or woman) you once loved and trusted is beating you senseless – then something as seemingly insignificant as a bag with your very own soap and shampoo can make a difference.

When I was in Chichester I did it, too. It took a while but at the height of the travel season, I was sending bags of toiletries to the various shelters around town. The staff had the kids make gift baskets for their mums on Mothers Day. All it took was a little coordination. I’ve found a shelter here in Budapest that caters for homeless families and I’d like to start the same again. Collect those soaps and shampoos and give them to me personally or drop them off at Jack Doyle’s or the Caledonia with my name on them.

I was reminded, yet again, of the importance of acting on the little things when I read a recent post on the Clearing Customs blog. It recounts the story of Ugandan Derreck Kayongo and his experience when he first stayed in an American hotel in the 1990s. He noticed that his partially used bar of soap was replaced every day – the old bits thrown out and a new one put in its place. The son of a former soap maker in Uganda, he decided to right this wrong – to turn this act of wantoness into something good. He founded the Global Soap Project. Over 600 hotels across the USA donate their partially used soap which is then reprocessed into new bars and distributed to 21 countries, including Haiti, Kenya, South Sudan, Guatemala, and Afghanistan.

Soap, I hear you say. Why soap?

According to the Global Soap Project, many places in the world today have the same problem. Their ”Soap Facts” page gives the following information:

  • 1.4 million deaths can be prevented each year by hand-washing with soap
  • Children under 5 who wash with soap can reduce their risk of pneumonia by 50%
  • 1/3 of the world’s soap is used by the U.S
  • 7 million children have died due to disease that could have been prevented with proper hygiene since 2009
  • 2.6 million bars of soap are discarded daily by the hotel industry in the U.S. alone

My project isn’t nearly as ambitious. But if your hotel soaps and shampoos can make even the smallest difference in someone’s life – isn’t it worth the hassle to collect and deliver?

3 Responses

  1. I saw a documentary earlier this year on the Global Soap Project and it is indeed a practical and great initiative. I will join you on this one, let’s see how far it goes 🙂

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