Let there be cakes of soap
It’s funny how some travellers go mad in hotel rooms, behaving as they never would at home
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.