Anyone who has traveled and stayed in a hotel has noticed—and probably used—the complimentary bars of soap provided in the bathroom.
But with so many travelers only staying a day or two, and many higher-end properties being required to replace bars of soap whether they’ve been used or not, it raises the question of just how much hotel soap gets thrown out each year.
This also occurred to Shawn Seipler, CEO of Clean the World in Orlando, Fla., and a onetime tech employee who traveled frequently for work. So, while staying in a hotel one night in Minneapolis, he investigated.
“I picked up the phone and called the front desk and asked them what happens to the bar of soap when I’m done using it,” he recalled to the Associated Press. “They said they just threw it away.”
Stunned, Seipler later went on to investigate and discovered that hotels were discarding approximately 2 million bars of soap per day in the U.S. alone. Internationally, the number could be as high as 5 million.
With much of the world suffering from a lack of sanitation and access to cleaning products, Seipler felt there had to be a way to divert the unwanted soap into the hands of people that needed it.
Kat Merck is a freelance writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. An amateur naturalist who studied forestry and natural resources at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, she writes on a wide range of topics for local and national publications.