You might be surprised to learn that the leading causes of death for children in developing countries are hygiene-related illnesses, which claim more than 1.7 million lives each year. That’s nearly one-third of all child deaths. Handwashing with soap is the single most effective way to prevent those deaths. In fact, soap is more effective than vaccines, medications, or clean water initiatives alone. Research has shown that soap can reduce diarrheal disease by nearly one-half and rates of respiratory infection by about one-quarter. Hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved each year if people had soap and understood how to properly wash their hands.
While this need for soap exists, hotels throw away millions of partially used bars of soap. Hotels in the United States alone discard an estimated 2.6 million bars daily. The Global Soap Project is working at the intersection of both of these issues to reduce waste and save lives.
What We Do:
Quite simply, we reduce waste and save lives, one bar of soap at a time. We receive partially-used and discarded soap from hotels, recycling it into millions of new bars, and then we distribute the new soap to people who lack access to it around the world. We have three focus areas for our soap: Soap in Schools Initiative, Emergency Relief, and WASH Programs. To-date, we’ve distributed new soap through relief efforts and hygiene education programs in 32 countries on four continents.
To maximize our impact in-country, we partner with leading global health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), CARE, and Partners in Health, to identify and reach people who do not have access to soap, or people who lack an understanding of how and why to use it. We focus on short-term relief efforts (refugees and disaster victims) as well as long-term WASH programs for people living in extreme poverty.
Our goal is to ensure that once people receive soap, they have access to it for the rest of their lives. This means helping them understand how to use it, why to use it, and why it is worth acquiring from local sources long-term. In other words, we create an immediate positive health impact that can be sustained for the rest of their lives while supporting local economies, and without creating dependence on us or free soap.
Learn more about our process and our distribution efforts here: