Home » Eco-Soap Bank: The Organization That Uses Waste Soap to Save Lives

Eco-Soap Bank: The Organization That Uses Waste Soap to Save Lives

by Surya Narayan
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Soap is fun; it feels nice and slippery, we can blow bubbles with it and it often smells lovely.

“Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.” That is what the medical professionals have recommended us all to do in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

This is sensible advice.

Germs can be either good or bad. Good germs live on the skin to keep it healthy. Bad germs – what scientists call “pathogens” – can make us sick.

Soap keeps us healthy because it makes it easy for us to remove germs. Germs are removed from the skin by water after being lifted off by the surfactants in soap.

Soap History

Evidence from an excavation in ancient Babylon indicates that the inhabitants of Babylon began producing soap approximately 2800 B.C. The art of manufacturing soap was first mastered by the Babylonians. They used melted fats and ashes to make soap.

The first people to produce soap were the Babylonians, Mesopotamians, Egyptians, ancient Greeks, and Romans. The first concrete evidence of soap-like substance dates to around 2800 BC. By mixing fat, oils, and salts, they all produced soap.

The cost of soap remained high despite the development of soap-making processes over time. At that time, plant byproducts, animal fats, and vegetable oils were the main ingredients in soap.

The price of soap was significantly reduced in 1791 when a Frenchman by the name of LeBlanc discovered a chemical process that made it possible to sell soap for considerably less money.

For many, soap is still a luxury product.

Those of us who are lucky enough to have access to clean, running water and soap now have a greater respect for them as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Now, it feels natural for us to wash our hands with soap more frequently. However, millions of families throughout the world continue to be unable to perform this most basic act, risking their lives as a result.

Three billion people do not now have access to soap, water, and basic hygiene facilities. Hand hygiene facilities are missing in one out of every three healthcare facilities worldwide.

Eco-Soap Bank: Educating children, saving lives, and reducing waste.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the soap bars left in a hotel room after you check out? We usually believe that the wrapped bars were left for the next visitor while the open bars were sent to the landfill.

That’s not always the case, though, and in a culture where recycling is trying to take the place of waste, that’s a positive thing!

It is also true that every day, millions of bars of hotel soap and soap factories that haven’t quite been used are disposed of in the trash and eventually end up in landfills.

However, an NGO called Eco-Soap Bank is trying to change this by collecting and recycling soap from partnering businesses and giving it to families and kids in Cambodia and other countries.

In order to educate people about the need for hand hygiene in rural regions, the Eco Soap Bank (ESB), which began in Siem Reap before expanding to 11 nations, has been giving recycled soap to needy kids.

How it started?

The organization was founded by Samir Lakhani, who first came to the Kingdom in 2014 as a volunteer and was inspired to launch the program after seeing a mother wash her child with laundry detergent.

Samir “was stunned when he saw the scene” and when he arrived back at the hotel where he was staying, he observed room staff discarding partially used soap bars.

Samir Lakhani, Founder Eco-Sop Bank

He developed the concept of collecting used soap for reuse based on the incidents he witnessed and he founded Eco-Soap Bank.

Eco-Soap Bank is a humanitarian and environmental non-profit organization working to save, sanitize, and supply leftover soap from manufacturers for the developing world.

How does Eco-Soap Bank engage with the community?

Since 2014, ESB has donated about 125 tons of soap. 600,000 soap bars have been distributed to children in Cambodia and 1.1 million kids worldwide.

Overall, ESB’s mission is divided into two parts. First, to collect and recycle the soap that is often discarded by the hospitality industry and other industries that generate environmental waste.

Then, the distribution of these to those in need and the reduction of illnesses associated with poor cleanliness and promoting healthy childhood development.

Primary school enrollment is as low as 4% among the poorest people in developing nations. Eco-Soap Bank wants to reduce the number of children who skip school because of illness so that their education can continue without interruption. To do this, Eco-Soap Bank is providing soap in both the home and school bathrooms.

ESB produces soaps in the shapes of butterflies, dolphins, and other creatures in an effort to catch the attention of kids. Additionally, it educated students in 25 different countries and created curriculum for teachers on the importance of handwashing and the advantages of soaps.

Empowering women and local community.

Johan Botha, Director of Eco-Soap Bank Cambodia said,

“When people use recycled soap, they will become more concerned about their local environment, which will help to improve the environment on our world. For this reason, we aim to promote increased production and usage of recycled soap”

Eco Soap Bank employs a total of 30 people in Siem Reap and out of them, 18 are soap makers. Interestingly, most of them are women. To help the local community, ESB also collects discarded boxes, newspapers, and clothes from locals, hotels, and stores to use for soap packaging.

Additionally, ESB is registered as an organization in the United States. Laos, Nepal, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Fiji, Ghana, and India are among the 11 countries where the NGO is active.

For his exceptional work towards society, Samir Lakhani, the founder, was honored with a 2017 CNN Heroes Award.

So, a huge THANK YOU to Eco Soap Bank, who is contributing to the fight against diseases and spreading hygiene awareness among children and families.

If you’re interested in soap supplies for WASH programs or schools, get in touch with ESB or send an E Mail : contact@ecosoapbank.org

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