Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I was doing a little self-reflection about what has happened in my life during the last 6 months and how lucky I am compared to others in this world. During one of these deep thoughts, I remembered a friend of mine from LinkedIn – Calum Maclean. Earlier this year, Calum walked away from a lucrative marketing career with some properties in the Midwest to work for Clean the World, an non-profit group that recycles used soap and shampoo products from hotels and distributes them to people in impoverished countries and homeless shelters in the States.
I’ve done quite a bit of travelling these last 6 months and have been amazed at how hotels keep changing out the soap and shampoo products I was using daily when they could have lasted my entire stay. What a waste. In addition, for the last 18 months, I have been working part time at a hotel in the Baltimore area to gain some additional hospitality experience, and have seen huge containers of slightly used soap, shampoo and conditioner being collected. I am unable to lift these containers they are so full.
I would imagine that these two scenes are being replayed daily through out our country and in the process millions of pounds of these products are finding their way to landfills. Meanwhile, thousands of people around the world are sick and dying because they do not have access to soap. This is so needless and sad.
During the past five years, “green” meetings have become the rage. Meeting planners were demanding that meeting venues implement recycling programs and institute sustainable purchasing practices among other things. Rarely, if ever, have I heard any meeting planner talk about how they wanted their room blocks at hotels to have the soap products recycled. During my times at both a meetings venue and the hotel, I have seen numerous surveys from planners asking about green policies, but have NEVER seen a question about the soap products.
This seems like a no-brainer to me. Planners, please start demanding that the hotels you use for your events to implement a program to recycle these products through a charity like Clean the World or at the very least with local homeless shelters in their community. So much good can be accomplished by what seems a fairly simple act.
Take a few minutes to check out Clean the World‘s site and while you are at it, check out Calum’s blog. He’s a good guy and he is helping to make a difference with the assistance of the hospitality industry.