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Soap an Item that is Often Taken for Granted
Most of us take soap for granted and don’t think twice about its use every day. Soap is taken so much for granted, in fact, that millions of partially used bars of soap are disposed of by hotels, motels, inns, and bed and breakfast facilities around the country.
Soap can Spell the Difference between Life and Death in Developing Countries
Soap in developing countries, however, can literally mean the difference between life and death for many people, most especially children. People living in dire poverty worldwide often suffer from acute respiratory infections and diarrheal diseases such as cholera because of an acute shortage of soap and a severe lack of basic hygiene resources such as clean running water. An estimated five million people a year perish each year from such diseases, the majority of whom are children (Clean the World, 2010). A number of studies have shown that the use of warm water and soap on a regular basis every day reduces the risk of contracting diarrheal afflictions and significantly reduces the spread of such contagion. The purchase of soap for impoverished people in developing countries is often unattainable, however.
Most Haitians Cannot Afford to buy Soap
In Haiti, for instance, most people earn an average of only $2.00 a day but the price of a bar of soap averages almost $1.00 which thereby puts it out of the reach of most Haitians. Many have no soap because they simply cannot afford it.
The Emergence of Clean the World Foundation (CWF), Inc.
Very significant steps, though, are being taken to overcome this public-health tragedy. In February 2009, Shawn Seipler and Paul Till each gave up six-figure careers to start a non-profit organization called Clean the World Foundation, Inc. (CWF), which is based in Orlando, Florida (Saturday Edition of the CBS Evening News with Jeff Glor, 2010). CWF reduces the waste caused by discarded soap and shampoo and sanitizes and recycles it into usable form which helps reduce the incidence of hygiene-related maladies worldwide.
CWF Cleanses and Recycles Soap and Shampoo into Usable Form
CWF operates in 40 states in the U.S. and in developing countries, such as Haiti. The organization collects used soap and shampoo from partnering hotels, motels, and inns and sanitizes and recycles it into reusable form for homeless shelters in the United States and in developing countries worldwide. Since its inception less than two years ago, CWF has eliminated 340 tons of conditioner, shampoo, and soap waste which is the equivalent of five million bars of soap and 35.5 tons of conditioner and shampoo that have been brought back into use (Clean the World, 2010).
Two Main Ways of Cleansing and Sanitizing Used Soap
Questions concerning the hygienic value and safety of recycled soap arise, of course, and need to be addressed. There are two primary methods of sanitizing soap to make it safe for re-use. The first is re-batching and the second is sanitization (Clean the World, 2010).
Re-batching is One Method of Cleansing Used Soap
Re-batching used soap entails heating it to a high enough temperature to kill all the germs and to remove all the impurities. The cleansed soap is then reshaped into two-ounce bars suitable for bathing and hand-washing purposes so vital to the prevention and spread of infectious diseases, such as cholera, which has so severely ravished Haiti and poses a serious public-health problem in other developing nations. This cleansing process is used about 10% of the time on moderately to heavily used bars of soap.
Sanitizing is the Second Method of Cleansing Used Soap
The second method for restoring soap to a safe reusable condition is sanitizing it. This process involves soaking the used soap in a sterilization solution and then putting it through a combination steam/water pressure process (Clean the World, 2010). The newly sanitized soap is then tested for its pH level and then allowed to cool for packaging and shipment. This sanitizing process is proprietary in nature and is going through patent-application procedures; it is used about 90% of the time on slightly used bars.
Testing Procedures for Ensuring the Safety of Recycled Soap
In terms of ensuring its cleanliness and safety, the recycled soap is tested by Tri-Tech Laboratories a Florida-based and state certified testing center. In its testing which has occurred on two occasions so far i.e. June 26, 2009 and April 9, 2010, Tri-Tech furnished Clean the World with infected soap for cleansing and sanitization. After cleansing and sanitizing, the soap was scrutinized for its safety and level of sanitization and found to be completely free of the pathogens that Tri-Tech had blended into the soap: Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aerogenes, Salmonella typhymurium, and Staphylococcus aureus (Clean the World, 2010).
Clean the World’s Used-Soap Distribution Systems
In addition to its hygienic and safety measures in recycling soap and shampoo, Clean the World has developed strong distribution systems on a global scale. It has created a direct-distribution system in Haiti and has forged strategic partnerships with non-governmental organizations such as World Vision, Compassion Alliance, and Floating Doctors to extend the reach of its soap and shampoo distribution systems (Clean the World, 2010).
Ways of Donating New or Used Soap and/or Shampoo
If you’re an individual or group which has new or used soap or shampoo to donate, you may send or drop it off at Clean the World’s headquarters: 8026 Sunport Drive, Suite 306, Orlando, FL. 32809. If you are in the bed and breakfast, hotel, or motel business or belong to a company or non-profit organization which would like to donate new or used soap or shampoo, please contact Mr. Paul Till at 407-404-0379 or via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org For further information about Clean the World or for advice about organizing a soap/shampoo drive, please access their web site at the following address: www.cleantheworld.org/ Things as simple and humble as used soap and shampoo, which have been properly cleansed and sanitized, can literally mean the difference between life and death for millions.
Sources: CBS News. (2010). The Saturday CBS Evening News with Jeff Glor, Saturday, October 30, 2010. www.cbsnews.com/
Clean the World Foundation, Inc. (2010). www.cleantheworld.org/ Accessed on October 30, 2010. Main Office: Orlando, Florida.
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About the Author
Dave S Morse
I've completed a Masters of Management in Public Administration at the University of Phoenix and am seeking to enter the field of social and