Wednesday, January 20, 2021Canada's Leading Online Business Magazine

Soap-Proud to be Canadian!

By R. Brent Lang

It is August and that means it is road trip season for a Canadian family – in a valiant attempt at avoiding the Wally World follies that wreak havoc on the Griswold Family, your family has decided to see the world’s newest shining tribute on the subject of human rights – you feel compelled to instill in your wonderful offspring a better understanding of human rights, to promote respect for others and to encourage reflection and dialogue.  You have decided your road trip will take you to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights!

For the sake of this little story we’re going to start out west in Vancouver, BC.  Unless you’re pulling an RV or come from a large and geographically diverse extended family your trip includes a stay at a hotel, motel, inn, resort, or B&B.  You’ve plotted out your trip in meticulous detail, 726 km Day One, gets you to Palliser Lodge at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in the Purcell Mountains, 14 km above the Town of Golden, BC; Day Two takes you 389 km to the Canalta Jurassic Inn in Drumheller, Alberta; Day Three takes you 711 km to Super 8 Regina, Saskatchewan and Day Four takes you 574 km to Country Inn & Suites by Carlson, Winnipeg, Manitoba – just a few kilometers from The Forks, where the Red River and the Assiniboine River meet, and future home of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.

These four lodging options, as well as 138 others across Canada are early-adopters of a program called Clean the World, a registered charity, a social enterprise and a direct connection to life-saving supplies delivered to emerging nations worldwide.

Hotel visits are synonymous with those little individually wrapped bars of soap – but when you check out, have you given any thought to what happens to these soap bars…

Land Fills?

Your next visit to a hotel, motel, inn or resort will result in: a shipment of soap to the developing world (Ghana, Haiti or 53 other developing nations) or that very same soap going to a landfill in Canada.  With little exception, the hospitality industry discards these gently used items (soap, shampoo, lotions) into their general garbage program – destined for the landfill.

To quantify this, Canada has approximately 456,689 guest rooms according to Hotel Association of Canada, with the establishments having an average 61 per cent occupancy throughout the year.  That is an astonishing 100 million room-nights of occupancy just in Canada.

According to the Interactive Impact Calculator on Clean the World’s website an estimated 21 million bars of soap and 21 million bottled amenities (shampoo) will be discarded this year into Canada’s landfills.

Did you know soap has life-saving qualities?  Soap is often so expensive relative to the monthly income of a family in the developing world that it is seldom part of a household’s “needs” due to its cost.  It is a fact that simple hand-washing with soap is critical to reducing the illness – even death – that comes from preventable diseases such as acute respiratory illness (pneumonia) and diarrheal disease (cholera).  These are the top two killers of children less than 5 years old, and although treatable, are responsible for over 9,000 deaths every day – more than Malaria and HIV combined.  The suffering these cause a young child taxes the body’s normal functions and diverts the nutrients and precious energy from developing healthy organs, muscles, limbs and brain function – to simply existing to fight disease.  Schooling, and the entire issue of human rights, is secondary to simply staying alive.

The impact of Clean the World’s amenities recycling program is three-fold as nearly 150,000 kilograms of soap and 110,000 kilograms of bottled amenities are diverted monthly from landfills, and instead shipped or provided to those in need by Non-Governmental Organizations world-wide, with the work performed through a social enterprise (enterprising non-profit model) of a registered charity.  Social impact, environmental impact and an economic impact to those needing an opportunity, through flexible, supported work, that is dignified, green and provides advancement opportunities.  Social enterprises are businesses operated by non-profits with the dual purpose of generating income by selling a product or service in the marketplace and creating a social, environmental or cultural value.

Would you pay $1 (one dollar) for the comfort in knowing your soap and shampoo will be returned to as-new condition, sterilized to be free of pathogens or debris?  That is the total cost the hotel partner is charged to be a part of the Clean the World program – this is a cost they can pass along to the customer or absorb.  That’s it!  There is no long-term contract, and no cost beyond $1 per room night of occupancy per month.  A hotel can cancel anytime – but in the end, it is good business to be green!  With over 8,000 establishments in Canada and just 3.5 per cent of them signing up to divert their soap-waste – the market opportunity is significant, yet the statistic is a reminder of how fragile the economy is and how a budget-conscious hotel operator can be part of the solution or part of the landfill problem, when a perfectly viable solutions is widely available.  To haul this life-saving “waste” to the landfill remains a fixed cost to the hotel operator.

Business travelers can select their hotel destination from the website.

Wherever possible, shipments of product to the ROC (Recycling Operations Centre) are done in a carbon-neutral manner – with UPS and other regional carriers.
Alternately, you can support Clean the World by simple online donation.  Every $1 donated provides enough soap for four children for one month. Think of what $50 or $100 could do.   Encourage every hotel, motel, inn, resort or B&B to become a partner of Clean the World.

Many hotels now have an environmental committee comprised of caring, knowledgeable and determined staff.  Given the sector employs over 280,000 workers coast-to-coast in Canada – hotel operators and management recognize this very large and influential voice insists on being heard and following industry best-practices.

Corporate social responsibility and corporate sustaining partnerships: Convention organizers (meeting planners) can also choose to have Clean the World program active for the duration of their convention only – say two or three days – and have the convention budget include this service –great to include in your corporate citizenship message and very easy public relations! 

The Clean the World, “Serve & Learn” program, sponsored by TD Bank, aims at teaching students about global sustainability and civic responsibility.  Now is the time to teach our students about the initiative and empower them to become good stewards of the community and the planet. 

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights doesn’t officially open until 2013, but corporate and individual philanthropic opportunities exist today!

Clean the World Foundation is an organization that has one main objective: to save lives by distributing clean soap to people all over the world.  Clean the World is the largest global recycler of hotel soaps and bottled amenities.  In just three years Clean the World has collected, recycled, and distributed more than 10 million soap bars in the United States, Canada, and more than 53 other countries.

Clean the World has a two-part mission:

Reduce the waste created by discarded soap and shampoo products.

Prevent the millions of deaths caused by hygiene-related illnesses every year.

Clean the World is a social enterprise that collects and recycles the partially used soap from hotels to donate to organizations that provide aid to impoverished people around the world. By providing soap to those that need it most; Clean the World helps prevent the spread of disease and saves lives.  As a social enterprise, Clean the World is bringing new sustainable and socially responsible practices and products to the global hospitality industry.

Thanks for helping Clean the World!

R. Brent Lang, CIM FCSI, is active in the fields of finance and philanthropy and recognized as a subject matter specialist in Social Entrepreneurship.  He holds the CIM (Chartered Investment Manager and FCSI (Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute) and Branch Manager course designations.  He is past Chair of the Community Impact Fund and Director at the Surrey Foundation.  He can be reached by email at