Why buy soap when you can recycle

Students cleaning soap

You will be surprised just how far a piece of soap can go.

And this is something Soap for Hope hopes to educate the public.

Soap for Hope is a programme by Diversey Malaysia Sdn Bhd which started in 2013 as it is projected over seven million children die each year from diseases that can be prevented with simple hand washing.

Soap for Hope focuses on three core objectives:

  • Saving lives – enabling hygiene by providing soap to communities who have no access to it.
  • Providing livelihood to the local community by recycling and reprocessing soap.
  • Helping hotels reduce waste by turning used soap into something useful again.

Hotel soap is best for recycling because it is hypoallergenic (unlikely to cause an allergic reaction) and softer than normal soap.

As such, it is easier to remould such soap.

Diversey, a hygiene company that supplies soap to hotels, has successfully worked with the Orang Asli community to recycle hotel soap via a programme called Make Orang Asli Mothers Independent (Moami) and is now working with Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES) to teach school children how to recycle soap.

Any profit made by Moami from selling the recycled soap is channelled back into helping the community.

The main strategy of Moami is to encourage and empower the mothers to take up an active role in becoming independent and self-reliant to improve their living standard.

Now, Soap for Hope and TrEES are taking it a step further by introducing soap recycling workshops for school children.

The first such class was at SJK (C) Yuk Chyun in Petaling Jaya last month.

TrEES director Leela Panikkar said: “We have had a school programme called ‘Young Voices for Conservation’ (YV4C) which focuses on civic engagement to develop positive mindsets within the school community.

“It has been around for a long time and we are taking the next step by introducing soap making to them.

“We want to teach them to care for the environment and show that everything we use can be recycled.”

About 30 students were taught how to recycle soap by Carrol Lawrence, a volunteer who has helped Moami from the beginning.

The students cut up and cleaned the used soap which was then dunked in strong antiseptic to be further cleaned.

The soap was then weighed and “aromatic ingredients” such as Bunga Telang and Daun Pandan – the possibilities are endless – were added before being put in the mould to be shaped.

The process to reshape the soap takes less than two minutes.

Carrol Lawrence
Carrol demonstrating how to mix the ingredients. Image: Twentytwo13

SJK (C) Yuk Chyun headmistress Tan Wat Nee said she hopes there will be more such classes in future.

“It was eye-opening not just for the children but for me too. It’s amazing what we can do and it is important to recycle what we can to save Earth.

“The soaps smelled wonderful and I won’t hesitate to use them,” she said.

clean soap project
Representatives from TrEES, Diversey, Moami and SJKC Yuk Chyun pose after the workshop. Image: Twentytwo13

Leela said more schools will be included in the programme in line with TrEES’ philosophy of a sustainable lifestyle as every ingredient used in making the soaps can be recycled.

For more information, log on to https://www.diversey.com/sustainability/soap-for-hope.