I had heard about Clean the World, an organization that recycles used soap from hotels into clean new soap that is distributed around the world to help prevent the biggest global kid killers: diarrhoeal disease and acute respiratory infections. But I finally got to experience what it's all about yesterday at a group outing we did yesterday before the official kickoff of the Pharma Forum 2012.
Shawn Seipler showed us a short video and explained how he and Paul Till decided in 2009 to form a 501(c)(3) organization to collect and recycle soap and shampoo products discarded by the hospitality industry, and distribute them to those who, because they don't have access to the products necessary for good hygiene, now die from poor-hygiene-related illnesses around the world daily.
How many times have I looked at that barely used soap bar and thought about what a waste it was to have it just thrown out, but it never occurred to me to take it to the next level, as Shawn and his partner did. It was just astonishing to see how much good they could do out of what didn't look like a slick operation: Just boxes of used soaps, some machines to disinfect and melt the soap and reshape it into new bars, and a group of volunteers eager to scrape the outer layer of yuck off the soap so it could begin the process, and assemble bags of donated hygiene-related products for distribution to shelters. (I'll post some pics when I get them downloaded from my camera. It's really pretty amazing.)
The whole thing was fascinating, and, as my first real CSR (corporate social responsibility) event, I could see how we started to build some relationships with each other as we scraped and bagged. I got a little too into it and had to finish filling up our last box of packaged bags, so I missed the final total of what we had accomplished, but I did get a hug from the staff person I had been working beside as I dashed after the group to get on the bus, which felt better to me than having hard numbers to talk about.
P.S. We also had the chance to do a quick site of the Gaylord Palms, which in addition to all the glorious meeting space it already had has recently opened a very cool sports bar that can be bought out for events, and an soon-to-open water park that looks like every kid's wildest dream.
P.P.S. Many, many thanks to our hosts at Hyatt for the lovely food, music, and company last night. It was the perfect way to end an all-around great pre-con day.