How is used hotel soap recycled?

A sustainable model - diverting landfill waste while sustaining economic development

For the last 3 years, we've been working with Sundara Foundation to employ women with fair wages to 1) take used hotel soap and repurpose it into new soap and 2) distribute that soap to slum children and health clinics. This initiative aims not only to help reduce waste, but to also allow these women to earn a fair wage to support themselves and their families. 

Meet Nita, Parvati and Yogita (left to right), our Sundara Hygiene Ambassadors Soap Production team from the Ashte village. These three ladies do everything from collecting the used hotel soaps to processing the soaps into new bars, and even helping distributing them to those in need.

How does this soap recycling initiative work?

While it’s a very hands on and manual process, our partners at Sundara have taken careful steps to ensure that the soap is safe to use. Upon collecting the used soap from hotel partners, the outer layer is scraped off before the inner layer is washed in a sanitizing solution. This mixture is then dried and shredded into fine pieces which creates the raw soap base. For the 360 Repurposed Bars, herbs are added to color and scent the soap. Even after the bars are made, the soaps regularly undergo vigorous lab testing to ensure safe use.

How do we turn used hotel soap into a Repurposed Bar?

Today, we wanted to document how these women turn the used hotel soap into a repurposed Bar. For these bars, our Hygiene Ambassadors incorporate neem, turmeric, and eucalyptus into the recycled bars of soap.

All ingredients for these therapeutic bars are sourced 100% locally and organically. In fact, our Hygiene Ambassadors extract the spices and herbs from trees and gardens that are all within 2 minutes walking distance from the Sundara Workshop.

A step by step walkthrough

STEP 1: Extract essence from the plants and herbs, crushing with a mortar and gradually adding a small quantity of water. Then, use a filter to remove clumps. It takes roughly 4 hours to extract enough essence to produce 300 bars of herbal soaps.

STEP 2: Measure 350g of disinfected shredded, recycled soap.

STEP 3: Add 9 soda bottle caps of extract to the recycled soap base (about 100 ml of extract).

STEP 4: Mix well and transfer the soap paste to the soap press mold.

STEP 5: Compress the soap paste using the press to obtain a solid block of herbal soap.

STEP 6: Cut into smaller bars and voilà!

"In Ashte, we commonly use these three plants to treat many conditions such as stomach pain and skin rashes. They have medicinal properties that are excellent for treating different skin conditions. I am happy that we will also be distributing these bars of soap to our community and surrounding communities as they will not only benefit from hand washing but also from the added benefits of the extract of those plants. Our Neem bar soap is my favourite because I love its scent and because I personally use neem a lot in my daily life" -Yogita Jadhav

Yogita with a Neem Herbal Soap Bar
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