Let there be cakes of soap

It’s funny how some trav­ellers go mad in ho­tel rooms, be­hav­ing as they never would at home

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

IN some cir­cles, I am known as Su­san of a thou­sand soaps, which is funny but not quite true. I used to lift soaps from ho­tels (which is al­low­able, I reckon; I have never taken a bathrobe or a stan­dard lamp) but more and more prop­er­ties are us­ing liq­uid soap dis­pensers.

Some ac­com­mo­da­tion groups, such as Banyan Tree, pro­vide re­fill­able pot­tery jars of liq­uid soap, shower gel, hair con­di­tioner and sham­poo that are much more en­vi­ron­men­tally cor­rect than over-wrapped soap, lead­ing to no waste and putting off the likes of me.

But maybe th­ese hote­liers are miss­ing an op­por­tu­nity, as re­cently I read about Global Soap, a US-based or­gan­i­sa­tion that col­lab­o­rates with ho­tels to send used soap to a plant where the bars are soft­ened, fil­tered through fine mesh to re­move any im­pu­ri­ties, and then moulded into fin­ished cakes, hand-cut and made ready for de­liv­ery to char­ity part­ners and NGOs, which dis­trib­ute to Third World coun­tries and cri­sis-stricken ar­eas such as Ebola-af­fected west Africa where per­sonal hy­giene aware­ness is cru­cial.

It’s a fine idea and Global Soap is look­ing for more part­ners for the pro­gram, so lis­ten up, hote­liers. Hil­ton World­wide has been an ac­tive force in the ini­tia­tive, claim­ing about 272 met­ric tonnes of its gue­stroom soap has been re­cy­cled into more than a mil­lion new bars.

An­other or­gan­i­sa­tion, Clean the World, re­cy­cles and dis­trib­utes ho­tel soap and plas­tic bot­tles and claims it has sent more than 22 mil­lion bars of soap to 99 coun­tries. Its web­site states that more than two mil­lion bars of par­tially used ho­tel soap are thrown away daily in the US.

It’s funny how some trav­ellers go mad in ho­tel rooms, be­hav­ing as they never would at home. I am the sort of su­per-tidy per­son who spends an in­or­di­nate amount of time fluff­ing up my house, re­ar­rang­ing cush­ions and straight­en­ing ev­ery­thing in sight, in­clud­ing fam­ily and friends if they are mak­ing the place look a mess. Put me in a ho­tel (or a tented camp, a lodge or any­where, re­ally, that isn’t chez moi) and I toss things about with aban­don, all but twirling wet tow­els about my head and aim­ing them at the chan­de­liers.

It’s a sort of lib­er­a­tion from the pres­sures of house­keep­ing and es­cape from the scru­tiny of oth­ers, at least un­til the maids ar­rive for the nightly turn­down ser­vice, by which stage, over­come with re­morse, I have cleaned the room, ironed the tow­els and re­made the bed.

I am also a bit of a re­dec­o­ra­tor, given to chang­ing the po­si­tion of ho­tel fur­ni­ture, or even throw­ing pash­mi­nas over of­fend­ing items of the wrong colours and tex­tures. Turk­ish tow­els are my new favourite trav­el­ling com­pan­ions as they can be tossed, so cool and chic and stripy, over hor­rid chairs to pep up a gue­stroom or even, as was the case re­cently in the US, across a tele­vi­sion to shade the screen be­cause the darned thing wouldn’t turn off no mat­ter how many but­tons I jabbed on the re­mote con­troller the size of a pi­ano key­board. Some­times this trav­el­ling life is such a blink­ing soap opera.

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