A new use for old soap

Roosevelt Inn donating used bars to help Third-World countries in need

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Tina Hough, owner and operator of The Roosevelt Inn, scoops soap into a shipping box on Monday. Hough collected about 50 pounds of soap used and left behind by tenants of the Coeur d'Alene bed and breakfast, and will ship the soap to the non-profit Global Soap. The soap will be melted and reformed, and distributed to populations around the world that are without access to soap.

COEUR d’ALENE — Tina Hough was shocked and saddened by the poor quality of life she found in Indonesia when she visited her daughter there in 2011. When Hough, owner of the Roosevelt Inn, learned of a nonprofit called Global Soap that recycles and distributes used soaps to Third-World countries, she jumped on the opportunity to help.

Global Soap partners with an organization named Clean the World to bring soap to people who don’t have access to it and teach them how to use it.

According to the Global Soap website, the leading causes of death for children in developing countries are hygiene-related illnesses. Hand washing with soap can prevent 1.4 million deaths each year, reduce diarrhea morbidity by 44 percent and reduce the risk of pneumonia for kids younger than 5 by 46 percent.

According to Global Soap, the hotel industry in the U.S. discards about 2.6 million bars of soap every day. Global Soap collects used bars of soap sent in by hotels around the country. It then mixes the soap with water to make it the right consistency and filters it to make sure any particulates are removed. Global Soap cuts the soap into bars and ships them to different countries.

“That is amazing,” Hough said. “Now I can do something good with something that would typically be garbage.”

Hough read on the Global Soap website that a village in Africa had 300 deaths due to dysentery diseases. They started using the soap brought in by Global Soap and the next year there were no deaths.

Hough spoke with some other bed and breakfasts and found the McFarland Inn also collects soaps. She decided to start collecting used soap too. Every time they cleaned out a room, they would gather the used soap in a gallon-sized plastic bag. Once the bag got full, they put it away in storage.

Hough guesses she has collected about 50 pounds of soap since she started last August. She predicts she will collect the same amount in the coming few summer months as she gathered last fall through this spring.

“This is my first shipment,” she said. “I’m really excited. It makes you feel good inside, knowing you’re doing something good for somebody.”

The Roosevelt Inn has 14 rooms. Hough said when people only stay for a few nights, they put a small dent in the bars of soap in their rooms. They might wash their hands a few times and shower a few times, but never use a full bar of soap. She said she always felt it was a waste to throw it all out.

Hough registered the Roosevelt Inn on the Global Soap website. All she has to do is pay for shipping and a small processing fee. She’s guessing it will cost nearly $150 to send her first batch. For more information, visit globalsoap.org.

“To know that something small like this can make a difference, it’s a small price to pay,” she said.

About 50 pounds of soap used by tenants of The Roosevelt Inn is piled up, ready to be shipped to the non-profit Global Soap. The soap will be melted and reformed, then distributed to populations without access to soap, in an effort to combat deaths and illnesses associated with improper hygiene.

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