Spotlight Non-profit: Cleaning the world a pair of hands at a time

LatinaLista — At the height of the swine flu scare, people didn’t need to be told twice to wash their hands. Bottles of hand sanitizing lotion flew off store shelves. Not anymore.

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The same urgency to have clean hands doesn’t exist like it did — not even on Global Handwashing Day.

Today, October 15, is the day set aside around the world to heighten awareness about the importance of washing hands. Nowhere in the world is this issue more important than in developing countries where access to soap can be difficult.

For that reason, two men from Orlando, FL created an organization in 2009 to help with that task. They call it Clean the World.

These men, Paul Till & Shawn Seipler, saw a need and figured out how to fill it.

On the one hand, they knew the global death toll was staggering due to people living in poverty around the world dying every day from acute respiratory infection and diarrheal disease because they have no soap.

On the other hand, they saw the waste being committed by the nation’s hotels who have to throw away millions of pounds of half-used soap and shampoo. They thought it would be a great idea to work with the hotels to recycle the old soap and shampoo and find a way to distribute that to the developing countries that so desperately need it.

Clean the World collects, sorts and sanitizes the soap, shampoos, conditioners and lotion products from participating hotels that have to discard then when cleaning guests’ rooms. They then recycle these product donations at a special Recycling Operations Center (ROCS) making them ready to distribute to homeless shelters and impoverished countries around the globe.

In addition, Clean the World receives donations of hygiene products straight from manufacturers as well.

So far, Clean the World works with members of the hospitality industry in 40 states with recycling plants in the United States and Canada. According to their website, the organization has helped eliminate over 340 tons of waste — and are still looking for more hospitality industry partners.

Impoverished people around the world die every day from acute respiratory infection and diarrheal disease because they have no soap. The death toll is staggering. Each year more than five million lives are lost to these diseases with the majority of deaths being among children less than five years old.

Studies have shown that simple hand washing substantially reduces the spread of these diseases.