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That bar of soap you used once or twice during your last hotel stay might not mean much to you, but it does to Derreck Kayongo.

Kayongo and his Atlanta-based Global Soap Project collects used hotel soap from across the United States. The soaps are cleaned and reprocessed for shipment to impoverished nations such as Haiti, Uganda, Kenya and Swaziland, instead of ending up in landfills.

During a hotel stay, a maid told him the soap bar he used once had been thrown away.  “He said, ‘Do all the hotels in the U.S. do this?’ And she said "Yeah, it’s part of the etiquette." 

That’s what got me starting to think about getting those bars and recycling them.” Keyonga said.

"I tried to return the new soap to the concierge since I thought they were charging me for it," Kayongo said. "When I was told it was just hotel policy to provide new soap every day, I couldn't believe it."

Kayongo, 41, is familiar with the stress that poverty and displacement can create. Almost 30 years ago, he and his parents fled to Kenya, where he would visit friends and family in refugee camps who struggle to survive -- sometimes without basic necessities.

"We lost everything," Kayongo said. "We didn't live in the camps, but we sacrificed a lot. The people worse off lived in the camps. Soap was so hard to come by, even completely nonexistent sometimes.

"When you fall sick because you didn't wash up your hands, it's more expensive to go to the hospital to get treated. And that's where the problem begins and people end up dying." 

Volunteers across the U.S. collect the hotel soaps and ship them to the group's warehouse in Atlanta. On Saturdays, Atlanta volunteers assemble there to clean, reprocess and package the bars. (more)

"We do not mix the soaps because they come with different pH systems, different characters, smells and colors," Kayongo said. "We sanitize them first, then heat them at very high temperatures, chill them and cut them into final bars. It's a very simple process, but a lot of work."

Recycling soap is a simple concept that provides enormous benefits. The Global Soap Project raises awareness about the lack of sanitation and its consequences in many parts of the world.

With 4.6-million hotel rooms in the United States, an estimated 2.6-million soap bars are discarded every day. By participating in our program, hoteliers are diverting tons of waste from the landfill and bolstering environmental sustainability programs. Hotel managers, housekeepers and guests become more environmentally conscious and more sensitive to the needs of vulnerable populations. (From


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Article by EBONNE RUFFINS, CNN | Read full article here