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  • Writer's pictureAlizée CCM

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ECO SOAP BANK: the second life of soap

Reuse is one of the five pillars for a Zero Waste lifestyle, and surprisingly it is doable almost in every occasion, including our personal hygiene, for instance.

Have you ever wondered where all that fancy shower gel offered by hotels go once you are done with it?

Hotels spoil us with free disposable toiletries that we thought for a while were amazingly convenient: more room in our 10kg handbags!

Despite being useful for us, these disposable toiletries are often left unfinished with an unbelievable amount of waste, including plastic containers and the product itself.

And tourism industry produce it a lot, especially in the underdeveloped countries.

During his volunteer trip to Cambodia in 2014, Samir Lakhani, an American college student, realized that the impact of this practice was not exclusively generating waste; it was the solution to a broader problem too: the limited access to basic hygiene in the country.

While working to build a fishing pond in a village, Samir noticed a woman washing her baby in a basin with laundry powder which contains toxic chemical potentially dangerous for the skin, imagine that left a significant mark on his experience.

It wasn't new to him that the sanitary condition in Cambodia was very scarce. Cambodian households that can afford to buy handwashing soap are so rare that for local stores is not even convenient to sell it.

The consequences are faced by hospitals: common diseases related to a lack of basic sanitary measures are widely spread around the country. And here is when Samir's idea came to life: give a second chance to all the soap bars and shampoo leftover to make basic hygiene education accessible to everyone.

Coming back to Pennsylvania, Samir founded a no-profit organization that manages to collect all the residuals soap from hotels and their plastic containers: the Eco Soap Bank.

Source: Eco Soap Bank

After sanitizing the new mixture and creating a new product, the Eco-Soap Bank donates it to the hospitals, schools and to those humanitarian organization that operates around Cambodia.

Local women are integrated into the project not just to give them a reliable work to provide finally to their families, but also because empowering women is the most effective way to empower the future members of the society for a healthier and a greener world.

Photo Credit: Sharon Rodish for Photographer without Borders 2016

Samir didn't expect his organization would have grown so fast in the first three years following the opening, so far they managed to help over 650,000 people and prevented tons of soap from ending up into landfills.

At Zero Waste we believe this remarkable example can teach how reusing is impactful not only not the environment but also on beneficial for other people.

Since Christmas holidays are approaching, followed by the Chinese New Year's ones if you have planned a trip to Cambodia consider the support you can give to The Eco Soap Bank.

Visit their official website to discover more about the project and how to donate your leftover products.

Do you know about any similar project here in Shanghai or in China? Share it with us!

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