Hilton's Used Soap Will Be Recycled Into New Bars

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The hotel company plans to recycle old soap into 1 million new bars for Global Handwashing Day.

Last May, Hilton conducted a survey asking guests if they look into a hotel’s environmental and social efforts in making their travel plans. They discovered that social, environmental and ethical considerations are important in making booking choices, especially for those younger than 25 years old. Shortly thereafter, the company announced that it would be cutting its environmental footprint in half and doubling its social impact investment by 2030.

“The company will also double the amount it spends with local and minority-owned suppliers, and double its investment in programs to help women and youth around the world,” notes a statement by the company. “These goals are part of Hilton’s Travel with Purpose corporate responsibility strategy to further the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.”

The chain is also being proactive when it comes to soap. Yes, soap. Which may seem like a random thing to focus on – but think about all of those used-only-a-few-times bars of guest soap left in hotel rooms. In fact:

Two million partially used bars of soap are thrown away every day in the U.S., according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

It is all sent to the landfill, while people across the globe are in need of soap for basic sanitation needs. WHO says that handwashing with soap could save the lives of millions of children.

So Hilton has announced that it will begin gathering the sudsy slivers from guest rooms and recycle them into one million shiny new bars of soap by October 15, Global Handwashing Day. The process involves crushing, sanitizing, and cutting the soap into new bars.

The new initiative is in partnership with Clean the World, with whom the company has already worked on similar projects. According to CNN Business , Hilton’s recycling program has already enabled Clean the World to distribute 7.6 million bars of recycled soap over the past decade, keeping 2 million pounds of soap and bottles out of landfills. So the program isn’t exactly new, but the Global Handwashing Day hook is notable. And according to the company, they plan to expand the existing soap recycling program to all hotels and send zero soap to landfill by 2030.

As CNN notes, “Businesses face disruption from climate change, and customers increasingly demand that products and services are environmentally friendly.” Which is to say, answer those surveys, write letters, leave comments. And this serves as a good reminder: Next time you’re at a hotel, use a single bar of soap between everyone for the duration of your stay. You can even take it home and use it up there – don't think of it as a bit of lathery leftovers, think of it as a lifesaving necessity that we are privileged to have.