Clean the World: Recycling Soap to Save Lives
by lisa arcella
Children in Haiti receiving recycled hotel products from Clean the World
|Caesars’ Jessica Rosman|
The next time you find yourself at the nondescript corner of Valley View and Desert Inn Roads, take notice of a sign in front of the building there that reads CLEAN THE WORLD. Inside, there’s a worldwide revolution taking place with Las Vegas at the forefront of a movement that is rapidly changing the way hotels view excess.
Clean the World is the brainchild of businessmen Shawn Seipler and Paul Till who, after reaching success with recycling half-used hotel soap in that other tourist hot spot, Orlando, wanted to bring the concept to Las Vegas. Clean the World just opened a second US recycling operations center here to service the West Coast because we were so receptive—and successful.
A Cleaner World
It all began when Seipler and Till were sitting in their hotel rooms after yet another business trip in 2009. “I just started wondering about what would happen to the soap and the little bottles of shampoo and conditioner after my stay,” Seipler says. “That was the spark that led Paul and me to start calling hotels and realizing they were just being thrown away. We found very amateur methods of recycling soap on the Internet that involved grinding the soap down into a paste and reforming it into a new bar. But the real ‘aha’ moment was when Paul found studies that show diarrheal disease was the second leading cause of death among children worldwide, after pneumonia. And both of those can be prevented by anywhere from 40 to 65 percent with the proper use of bar soap and proper sanitation.”
In the time since, the organization has gained 1,200 hotel partners in North America who have collected 660 tons of soap, which have been recycled into nearly 9 million bars of soap that were redistributed in this and 45 other countries.
“On paper it made sense to take soap and give it to children around the world,” Seipler says. “But when I got to places like Haiti, what was on paper went to the heart. There, we went to orphanages and schools and saw the desperation. That’s when we realized, ‘Wow, this is what Clean the World is all about.’”
photographs by jacquelyn allen (bottles); courtesy of clean the world (children)