Of­fer­ing a cleaner, health­ier fu­ture

Soap is an A-No. 1 germ fighter. Clean the World re­cy­cles what’s left at ho­tels, puts it in good hands.

Los Angeles Times - - TRAVEL - By Jay Jones travel@la­times.com

LAS VE­GAS — Jes­sica Rosman will never for­get the chil­dren’s smiles; they were Christ­mas-morn­ing bright with the ex­cite­ment of some­thing won­der­ful in store.

For th­ese chil­dren, the thrill of an­tic­i­pa­tion stemmed not from the lat­est gad­get or sought-af­ter toy. The gift was soap.

“The kids’ eyes lit up as if we were su­per­heroes,” said Rosman, a Cae­sars En­ter­tain­ment ex­ec­u­tive.

She and three other Cae­sars em­ploy­ees trav­eled 7,400 miles from Las Ve­gas to Manila last year to wit­ness the work of Clean the World, an Or­lando, Fla., based char­ity that re­cy­cles soap that ho­tel guests leave be­hind.

Be­cause Las Ve­gas is an enor­mous ho­tel mar­ket, one of the non­profit’s three re­cy­cling cen­ters is here, just a few blocks off the Strip. (The two other places: Or­lando and Hong Kong.)

With 150,000 ho­tel rooms, Ve­gas is awash in par­tially used soap.

“Most [ho­tel guests] un­wrap two bars of soap,” said Tammi Run­zler, a vice pres­i­dent for Clean the World. “One they have at their sink and one they have in their shower.

“More than 2 mil­lion bars of used soap are thrown away ev­ery sin­gle day in the United States.”

Soap is a “‘do-it-your­self ’ vac­cine” that can “re­duce the spread of di­ar­rheal and re­s­pi­ra­tory ill­ness,” the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion notes on part of its web­site ded­i­cated to its five-step hand-wash­ing pro­to­col. (www.cdc.gov /hand­wash­ing). It cites poor hy­giene as well as un­safe wa­ter and poor san­i­ta­tion as the main cul­prits in al­most 90% of di­ar­rhea cases that re­sult in 1.5 mil­lion deaths each year.

“Peo­ple are dy­ing be­cause they need soap,” Run­zler said.

“That’s re­ally the mission: what we can do to help mit­i­gate both of th­ese chal­lenges.”

Shawn Seipler, who founded the or­ga­ni­za­tion, took his cue from his own trav­els: As a sales ex­ec­u­tive, he stayed in scores of ho­tels and re­al­ized that lots of soap was go­ing to waste.

He founded Clean the World in 2009 and by 2011, af­ter find­ing an ally in Rosman, es­tab­lished a part­ner­ship with Cae­sars.

Soon, house­keep­ers at Cae­sars’ nine Ve­gas re­sorts were putting used soap in re­cy­cling bags in­stead of the trash.

Other prop­er­ties — in­clud­ing the Vene­tian and Wynn — fol­lowed suit, and now, 22 ho­tels on or near the Strip par­tic­i­pate.

Ho­tel em­ploy­ees have started vol­un­teer­ing at the re­cy­cling cen­ter, where about 2,000 pounds of ameni­ties ar­rive daily.

Clean the World also ac­cepts bot­tles of sham­poo and lo­tion, but soap re­mains para­mount.

The ho­tel soap — in var­i­ous colors, shapes and sizes — is stored in hun­dreds of crates un­til it un­der­goes a san­i­tiz­ing process. It’s then crushed and formed into new bars. A ma­chine stamps the char­ity’s name and logo onto each one.

“Wash­ing with soap has a tremen­dous im­pact on killing bac­te­ria and germs,” Run­zler said. “Even for some­one who does not have ac­cess to clean wa­ter, the use of soap is very, very ben­e­fi­cial.”

Clean the World has dis­trib­uted more than 22 mil­lion bars of soap in 99 coun­tries, in­clud­ing some in the United States.

“There are a lot of non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions and a lot of peo­ple in our own backyards that are ab­so­lutely des­per­ate for th­ese hy­giene prod­ucts,” Run­zler said.

Clean the World

CHIL­DREN IN HON­DURAS, one of the 99 coun­tries in which Clean the World op­er­ates, wash their hands us­ing soap pro­vided by the char­ity.

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