Cleaning up, a bar at a time

Cleaning up, a bar at a time

Little-used bars of soap are wasted when they're thrown away. YP junior reporters visited an organisation that collects, sanitises and recycles them to the needy in the name of good hygiene

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Celebrating a job well done, from left, Kelsi Lo, Dristi Gurung, Maryam Gul, Sonia Li and Elaine Lau from HKBU, Leanna Cheng, Vera Ho and Henry Lui.
Celebrating a job well done, from left, Kelsi Lo, Dristi Gurung, Maryam Gul, Sonia Li and Elaine Lau from HKBU, Leanna Cheng, Vera Ho and Henry Lui.
Photo: John Kang/SCMP

Soap Cycling is a nonprofit organisation that tries to make the world a cleaner and healthier place by distributing recycled soap to underprivileged families in developing countries and teaching them about sanitation. Young Post's junior reporters were invited for a session of soap recycling.

Thousands of children die every day from diarrhoea-related and respiratory diseases, which can be prevented by simply washing their hands with soap for a few seconds. That very soap is thrown away by hotels because it was used only a few times by their guests. Soap Cycling is one of the few organisations in Asia that stops this wastefulness, collects the slightly used soap, then sanitises and distributes the soap to the poor.

Founded by David Bishop, a law lecturer at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), Soap Cycling is run by HKU students, mostly from the faculty of business and economics, to learn about leadership and management, while also making the world a cleaner and healthier place, one bar of soap at a time.

The student volunteers collect bars of soap and manually scrape any dirt off using a chisel. The bars are then put into a refining machine called a plodder. It sanitises the bars, which are distributed to underprivileged families in developing countries.

Maryam Gul, Dristi Gurung, Kelsi Lo

When we first walked into the Soap Cycling warehouse in Kwai Chung, we saw plenty of bars of soap scattered around. Soap Cycling may sound like riding a bicycle over a road made of soap, but instead, it was a meaningful experience of scraping dirt off slightly used bars for reuse.

Though it may sound rather boring and labour-intensive, scraping dirt off bars with a chisel was strangely therapeutic. Sitting in a circle and methodically scraping dirt off with a strong soapy aroma around us, we felt as if we were in some kind of religious cleansing ritual.

It was nice to know the two hours were well spent, with all our hard work going into making children's lives cleaner and healthier. It's not every day you get to help countries by just sitting down and scraping soap, is it?

Leanne Cheng, Vera Ho, Henry Lui

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Cleaning up, a bar at a time

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