FAQs

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Q. What is the Global Soap Project?

The Global Soap Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to improve global health.  We do this by receiving partially-used and discarded soap from hotels, recycling it into millions of new bars, and distributing the new soap through global health programs to people who lack access to it around the world.  With recycling efforts and distribution programs spanning the globe, we’re making a real and sustainable impact on global health.

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Q. Why soap?

Why not?! The leading causes of death in children globally (responsible for 2.4 million deaths annually) are diseases that could be prevented with soap.  Studies have proven that soap is the single most effective way to prevent these deaths — more effective than vaccines, medications, or clean water initiatives alone.  In fact, simply handwashing with soap can cut morbidity rates from the leading causes of death by nearly 50%.

At the same time, there are approximately 4.7 million hotel rooms in the United States alone, which collectively discard an estimated 2.6 million bars of partially-used soap each day!  So, we’re addressing both issues by reducing the environmental waste and turning it into a lifesaving tool.  It’s a win-win.

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Q. Who runs the organization?

The Global Soap Project is run by a team of dedicated professional staff and governed by a national board of directors.  Sam Stephens took the helm as Executive Director in February 2012 and is in charge of leading the organization.  To learn more about the entire leadership team, click here.

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Q. Is the soap really safe to use?

Yes!  Soap is an antibacterial product whose sole purpose is to kill germs of any kind.  Simply put, bacteria cannot grow on soap.  GSP exercises extreme caution in sorting, cleaning, and processing soap to ensure its’ integrity. On top of that, we use an outside lab to confirm the safety of random samples of our reprocessed soap on a regular basis.

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Q. How many hotels are participating?

As of December 2013, more than 1,300 hotels throughout North America alone are participating, with dozens more joining each week.

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Q. Do you take soap donations from individuals and families?

No, not at the moment.  Our production process requires that we manufacture soap in large batches, and each batch can contain only one type of soap. Therefore soap in small quantities cannot be reprocessed.  However, individuals and families can get involved in other ways.  Our greatest need is financial support, and we also need volunteers and advocates as well.  Click here to learn more about ways to get involved.  Thanks!

 

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Q. Who are the recipients of the soap and how are they selected?

Vulnerable populations without access to soap, including orphans, refugees, disaster victims, and families living in extreme poverty, are the targets of our efforts.  We work in-country with a network of leading global health organizations to distribute our soap as part of humanitarian relief efforts and long-term hygiene education programs.  Our goal is to ensure that, once people receive our soap, they never lack access to it again — meaning we have to help them understand how to use it, why to use it, and why to acquire it locally for the rest of their lives.  In doing so, we create an impact that is sustained for the rest of their lives while supporting local economies, and without creating dependence on us or free soap.

To date, our programs have reached people in 30 countries spanning four continents.

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Q. How is the soap distributed?

We work with leading global health organizations that have strong programs in the countries to which we send soap.  These partners help us identify the populations that need soap and hygiene education, and then help distribute the soap to ensure 100% gets to those who need it most.  Most importantly, they help conduct hygiene education to ensure the recipients understand how and why to use the soap on a regular basis, and conduct ongoing efforts to ensure the positive impact is sustained long-term.

Partners include the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Partners in Health, CARE, and many more.

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Q. How much soap has been delivered?

Since 2009, we’ve distributed more than two million new bars of soap to hundreds of thousands of people in 32 countries around the world.  Recipients include refugees, disaster victims, the homeless, and mothers and children living in extreme poverty.  At the same time, we’ve diverted more than 500,000 pounds of discarded soap from landfills.

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Q. Have you thought about selling the soap to help fund your effort?

This is one of many options we are currently evaluating.

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Q. How can I make a donation?

Visit http://www.globalsoap.org/contribute to make a tax-deductible financial contribution. Thanks for your support!

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Q. How can I become a volunteer?

Learn more about our volunteer opportunities at http://www.globalsoap.org/getinvolved or email our Volunteer Coordinator for more information.

 

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Q. Is there a cost to the hotels to participate in this program?

There is no monthly or annual fee for participating.  The only cost to the hotel is shipping or delivering soap to the Global Soap Project warehouse. However, the cost of shipping is tax deductible.

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Q. What kind of container should we use to collect the soap?

We would prefer that hotels collect and ship soap in their original boxes, to keep our footprint as small as possible. . If these are not available, larger copy-paper boxes with lids work well, although they will be heavy when filled. Most importantly, fill whatever box you do use to the top. Boxes that have empty space often collapse and break open in transit.

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Q. How should we store the used soap?

Typically the soap is stored in the Housekeeping Department until there is a sufficient quantity for shipping. 

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Q. How do we know how much soap we’ve sent at the end of the year?

At the end of each year, or upon request, we will be happy to tell you how much soap you’ve sent.  Just send us an email or give us a call if you’d like more information.  In addition, we also encourage partner hotels to weigh the soap before each shipment and keep a tally of their own donations.

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Q. Do you take donations other than soap (i.e., shampoo, body wash)?

Not at the moment.  Our focus is on saving lives, so bar soap is our target. Additionally, opened (unsealed) containers of liquid are subject to potential contamination in ways that bar soap is not.

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Q. Where should we ship soap?

Thanks for your soap! Hotels in North America should send soap to:  6901 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, Suite D, Norcross, Georgia 30092.  Hotels in Asia should contact info@soapcycling.org, and hotels in Europe should contact globalsoapeurope@gmail.com.

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Q. Does GSP pay for shipping costs?

At the moment, we do not pay for shipping soap from a donor hotel to the GSP warehouse.  Donor hotels are encouraged to confirm whether or not their hotel or hotel brand has preferred shipping rates with carriers such as UPS or FedEx, which can mean significant savings.   Shipping costs are tax-deductible, as is the in-kind value of the used soap.

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Q. What support/benefits can we expect as a participating hotel?

Get started right away by posting information about your GSP participation on your hotel web site, Facebook, Twitter and other social media.  Not only will it enhance the image of your hotel, but it will help GSP with growing awareness and, subsequently, financial or in-kind donations.

Certainly hotels are encouraged to promote their participation in GSP as part of the hotel’s sustainability efforts.  This is a very big issue with meeting planners and corporate travel managers, and it often gives participating hotels a competitive edge.

GSP provides individual hotel listings on the GSP website; periodic newsletters sharing hotel stories and pictures of collection efforts or fundraising in your local community; education on hand-washing efforts in 3rdworld countries; friendly competitions between participating hotels; and even chances to work and travel with the GSP organization.  GSP will  acknowledge every Hotel’s valued donations with an annual certificate. Do you have ideas of your own to add to this list?!  If so, send them to hotels@globalsoap.org.

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