Good causes come in myriad guises, but Clean the World manages to help sustain the earth's long-term ecology at the same time it saves lives on the brink. Simply put, the Orlando-based nonprofit organization collects and sanitizes leftover soap and bottled amenities such as shampoo from hotels and other meeting venues, and distributes them to those who desperately need better hygiene.
Since February 2009, the group has sent more than 7 million soap bars to beleaguered recipients, whether in homeless shelters in the United States or critical sites in more than 40 countries. "In Haiti alone, we've supplied some 300,000 bars of soap since the cholera outbreak of last October," says Matt Gomez, director of marketing and communications for Save the World. "Soap is vital in preventing the spread of diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea, two of the top killers of children around the globe."
Clean the World is the brainchild of Shawn Seipler, executive director, and Paul Till, managing director, two former e-commerce executives whose frequent hotel stays led to the idea of keeping used soap and shampoo out of landfill and getting it to places where it could do the most good. To date, more than 700 properties in the U.S. and Canada have signed on, from the Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles, to the Ramada Inn Boston ("they help pay for the program in addition to supplying the goods," notes Gomez); materials are sent to processing centers in Orlando or Vancouver, B.C., where they are treated for recycling and sent off where needed.
Aside from patronizing participating hotels, planners can volunteer for Clean the World projects or organize related team-building activities. Shawn Seipler frequently speaks at conferences to spread the gospel. For more information, go to cleantheworld.org.