Welcome to the FAQs
The following is a list of the most commonly asked questions about Soap Aid and the work we do.
If you have questions that are not answered here please feel free to contact us.
- What is Soap Aid’s mission?
Answer: To save children’s lives through improved hygiene whilst positively impacting the environment.
- How do we fulfil the mission?
Answer: Our humanitarian and environmental mission is made possible by:
- Our valuable partnerships with accommodation industry providers, who divert their soap to Soap Aid, so that we can recycle the soap into brand-new bars. The bars are then distributed to disadvantaged communities in Australia, New Zealand and overseas.
- Our partnership with community impact partners on the ground. They are part of the communities they work with and have a focus on improving hygiene and health outcomes for their communities through hygiene behaviour change education and our new recycled soap bars
- Why does Soap Aid exist?
Answer: Soap Aid is the only charity in Australia undertaking this humanitarian and environmental effort with recycled waste soap.
Washing hands with soap is second nature for many, but for those in many vulnerable communities, soap is hard to access and is often perceived as a luxury item. Although the reasons vary, access to soap can be prevented by the cost, availability of the bars in rural areas with poor road infrastructure, and the need to prioritize food and water over sanitary goods.
Soap Aid aims to achieve lifesaving and sustainable improvements in global hygiene practices by distributing free new soap to communities along with hygiene behaviour change education programs. Some key facts on the issues:
- Humanitarian – Saving Children’s lives
- 4 billion people lack adequate sanitation across the world.
- More than 1.4 million children under the age of 5 die each year due to hygiene-related diseases, diarrhea, and pneumonia.
- Many suffer from debilitating skin infections.
- Handwashing with soap reduces over 40% of diarrhea cases.
- Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Influenza, and other infectious diseases. At the onset of COVID-19, 3 in 10 people worldwide could not wash their hands with soap and water (World Health Organisation [WHO], 2022).
- Environmental – Saving the Environment
- Accommodation providers discard over 5 million bars of soap per year into landfills.
- The soap is generally hardly used, with the emblem still clearly visible on the surface.
- By recycling 100kgs of soap, 0.15 tCO2e emissions are saved from entering the atmosphere, 61 litres of fuel are saved, and 837 kilometres would not be driven on our roads *according to the Carbon Reduction Institute of NSW.
- What is the Hotel to Hands Program?
Answer: The Hotel to Hands Programme is Soap Aid’s amazing Circular Economy Soap Recycling programme. The Hotel to Hands programme is a ‘user pays’ subscription model which requires accommodation partners (i.e., called Soap Aid Champions), to pay a yearly subscription based on the number of rooms that they have. The subscription then gives The Soap Aid Champions access to an online dashboard that provides, training materials, marketing materials and a freight solution that facilitates the collection of their soap from anywhere in Australia and New Zealand.
The subscription fees contribute to the costs associated with recycling the soap (freight, administration, recycling operations, etc.) as Soap Aid is a registered charity and social enterprise and we do not seek to make profits for shareholders.
- What is included in the Soap Aid Champion Welcome Kit?
Answer: Upon completion of the registration for the Hotel to Hands subscription on our website, Soap Aid Champions will have access to the following benefits:
• access to our online system 24/7.
• access to your own dashboard so that you can generate and view a report that shows how much soap you have diverted from landfill.
• easy online ordering of monthly soap collections (12 per year included in the full subscription cost).
• the ability to generate labels for soap collection boxes (which will be picked up by Soap Aids freight partner).
• access to training resources for your staff.
• access to marketing materials (including tent cards and in-room guest video).
- How can I register for Hotel to Hands subscription program?
Answer: All you need to do is go to www.soapaid.org and complete the online registration form, pay the subscription fee and start collecting your used guest soap right away to turn into new bars of lifesaving soap.
- Where can I find the list of Soap Aid Champions already on the programme?
Answer: You can find the complete list on our website: https://soapaid.org/about-us/
- Where are our accommodation industry partners?
Answer: Soap Aid’s accommodation partners are located all over Australia and New Zealand.
- Does Soap Aid accept soap donations from individuals?
Answer: The subscription program offered allows organisations to recycle guest soap that would otherwise be discarded in landfills. The subscription covers the cost of recycling and transporting the soap from those organisations. We can connect you with one of our Soap Aid Champions in your area for soap donations to them.
If you have soap to donate, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Does Soap Aid work with volunteers?
Answer: Yes, volunteers are welcomed and appreciated from time to time and Soap Aid works with volunteers in a variety of roles. e.g.to assist with sorting our soap, particularly during times when we have increased collections from our Soap Aid champions. If you are interested in participating or wish to contribute within a particular area of expertise (e.g., marketing, design, sustainability, transport, soap sorting), please get in touch with us at email@example.com.
- Why does Soap Aid require a subscription fee?
Answer: Soap Aid developed the Hotel to Hands subscription programme to ensure that our organisation could be self-sustainable and scalable. The subscription fee covers the costs involved with Soap Aid operations, such as freight to pick the soap up from our partners, administration for receiving/distribution of our new recycled soap bars, the maintenance and upkeep of the recycling equipment used for soap production and the maintenance of our website and member dashboards.
Apart from the subscription program, Soap Aid receives small funding through philanthropic grants and donations.
- What is the humanitarian impact of Soap Aid?
Answer: More than 2,900,000 recycled Soap Aid bars were distributed to vulnerable communities in Australia, Asia, the Pacific, Africa, and New Zealand. Consequently, more than 422,000 children and adults were supplied with soap for 12 months and more than 106,000 children’s lives were saved.
- Where do we distribute soap?
Answer: We donate soap in Australia, New Zealand, The Pacific (Vanuatu, Fiji, and PNG), Asia (Cambodia, The Philippines, India, and Indonesia), and Africa (Somalia, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia, Madagascar).
For example, In Vanuatu, Soap Aid provides soap to the Ministry of Health for distribution to schools to support hygiene education. The soap provided helps to reduce shigella and trachoma disease rates in the outer islands of the Archipelago.
Soap Aid also provides crucial support in post-disaster situations (E.g., Soap Aid has provided soap through our partner World Vision for post-disaster recovery in Fiji, Vanuatu, the Philippines, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Mali). Hygiene is critical in a post-disaster situation, and our new bars of soap help to address the hygiene issues that always follow these terrible natural disasters.
- How does Soap Aid support women’s empowerment?
Answer: Soap Aid works with the Days for Girls Foundation and the Matato Foundation to provide soap for hygiene kits for girls. The kits offer essential items so that they can take care of their own personal hygiene and remain in school, particularly during menstruation.
In Cambodia, Soap Aid soap provides a way for rural women to earn an income as hygiene ambassadors. The village ambassadors project is in response to the high number of childhood deaths and incidence of disease caused by inadequate community hygiene and handwashing. At the same time, the project aims to alleviate the women’s financial burdens and support their families. As a result, soap becomes a product for the benefit of all communities, and women can feel good about working for those in need.
In many vulnerable communities, women are responsible for the health and education of their families. Soap Aid provides lifesaving soap bars linked to hygiene education, this provides a means for women to promote better health. An impact of better health through improved hygiene is that children will be more likely to attend school rather than miss school days due to sickness.
- How can I request soap donations for my community?
Answer: As Soap Aid distributes soap worldwide, we have some criteria that assist us in prioritising where we distribute our soap. To get a better understanding of how soap might help your community, we ask organisations to complete the following soap request form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Why recycle soap?
Answer: Australia has a strong dependence on landfills, being one of the highest producers of waste in the world. Waste sent to landfill decays and generates methane – making it a leading contributor to global warming.
It is estimated that accommodation providers discard over 5 million bars of soap per year into landfills. By recycling 10 tonnes of soap, Soap Aid can:
- Provide 100,000 soap bars, 100 gm.
- Save 14.54 tCO2e from entering the atmosphere, which is equivalent to:
- 6,107 litres of fuel saved.
- 83,651 kilometres off the road.
- Supply 2,083 families with soap for 12 months.
- Supply 8,333 children with soap for 12 months
- Save the lives of 3,667 children.
- Which one is more sustainable, liquid or hard soap?
Answer: When comparing both types of soap, hard bars are consistently more eco-friendly and cost-effective than liquid soap; here are some reasons why:
- Liquid soaps are petroleum based and require emulsifying agents and stabilizers in order to maintain their consistency. A 2009 study conducted at the Institute of Environmental Engineering concluded that liquid soaps leave a 25% larger carbon footprint than bar soaps. Because of the chemical formula of soap and its ingredients, it takes about seven times more chemical feedstocks and processing to manufacture liquid soap. That means seven times more energy use and carbon emissions!
- The chemicals used in liquid soap require more wastewater treatment than those used in bar soap during end-of-life disposal.
- Bar soap surges ahead when it comes to transportation — it’s much more efficient. Not only is liquid soap heavier to carry, but it’s also not packaged very efficiently. Bar soap is almost always packed in stackable bars, which saves a lot of space and fuel for transport.
- The use of liquid soap by guests in paid accommodation is higher than hard bar soap, according to the Zurich Institute of Environmental Engineering. They have determined that in a regular 30-second hand wash, people use on average 0.35g of bar soap — compared to 2.3g of liquid soap. In other words, washing your hands takes more than six times more liquid soap than solid soap. That is, in part, due to how the products are used: you use a spurt of liquid soap, and that’s simply more than what you use when you wash your hands the old-fashioned way.
- Just by not having liquid soap dispensers in your bathrooms, you can reduce your plastic waste by approximately 20%.
- Liquid soap frequently includes substances like triclosan, which, when introduced into water bodies via sewage systems, can pose a threat to aquatic life. Furthermore, these chemicals have the potential to adversely affect plants and animals in their native environments.
Bar soap uses less packaging material than the thick plastic that liquid soap bottles are made of. Plastic takes at least 100 years to decompose in a landfill. On the other hand, cardboard packaging only takes a few months to decompose.
A 2009 study in Environmental Science & Technology determined almost 20 times more energy is required in product packaging for plastic soap bottles than when producing cardboard or paper packaging for bar soap.
- Do you recycle liquid soap?
Answer: No, hard soap bars cannot be recycled together with liquid amenities (e.g., shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion). Liquid soap not only requires more wastewater treatment but is also made of multiple different types of chemicals and substances, which makes it more complicated than hard soap bars to be recycled.
- What condition should the soap be in when donated?
Answer: To make use of all the soap donated upon arrival in our facility plant, it is important to follow a few simple steps when handling and collecting the soap:
- Keep the soap separated from general room rubbish.
- Keep the soap as dry as possible; this will prevent the soap from sticking together, which renders it impossible to sort. Use disposable gloves when you handle the soap and wash your hands thoroughly with soap for 30 seconds after handling boxes and packages.
- Can Soap Aid also recycle plastic?
Answer: No, we don’t currently recycle plastic, but Soap Aid is looking into how to address this issue in the future.
- If hard soap is more sustainable than liquid, why does Soap Aid intend to sell a new range of liquid soap?
Answer: Soap Aid’s mission focuses primarily on promoting good hand hygiene to prevent infectious diseases. However, we do acknowledge that in specific situations, hard bar soap might be unsuitable, such as in public toilets, schools, or any facility where a high number of different people pass through. Hard soap is still the most sustainable option; nevertheless, liquid soap is better than no soap.
- Is recycled soap 100% clean?
Answer: Despite all the benefits, when it comes to soap, the perception of cleanliness may change negatively for some people who think that soap might still be unclean and carry harmful bacteria after recycling. To address this concern, Soap Aid commissioned an analysis for microbial testing to determine the levels of bacteria in the recycled soap. The results reveal that recycled soap is as bacteria-free as virgin soap, being 100% clean. For this reason, soap bars can not only be considered one of the most effective and simplest ways of preventing hygiene diseases but also the most sustainable item one could have in their bathroom.
- Can soap help to stop COVID-19?
Answer: According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), handwashing with soap is considered to be a vital public health action for preventing the spread of coronavirus and influenza. COVID-19 primarily spread through droplet and contact transmission. That being the case, frequent and correct handwashing with soap stops the transmission of the virus after common behaviours such as coughing, sneezing, and touching animals and surfaces. Therefore, it is recommended that each person should wash their hands at least five times per day, each time for approximately 20 to 30 seconds, particularly before eating ad preparing food.
- What is the health impact of Soap Aid’s operations in Australia?
Answer: Australia also has vulnerable communities who don’t have access to soap and hygiene education. In addition, Australia remains the only developed nation where the debilitating eye disease, Trachoma persists as a public health issue, with infections impacting primarily rural and remote indigenous communities. Trachoma, the neglected tropical disease, is the world’s leading cause of irreversible blindness found in around 115 remote indigenous Australian Communities (Kimberley, Pilbara, Midwest, and Goldfield’s regions).
To eradicate Trachoma, Soap Aid has proudly partnered with the Western Australia Country Health Service to help deliver a health promotion strategy called Squeaky Clean Kids (SCK). The goal is to reach 63 remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia with populations of up to 19,500 across schools, households, and community facilities. As a result, Soap Aid has been able to provide over one million bars of hard soap to remote communities in Western Australia.
As part of the program, educational resources for schools and communities promoting hygiene messages such as “Clean Hands and Clean Faces” have also been incorporated into the delivery of the SCK program.
- How much do you spend on administration?
Answer: Soap Aid is a small and unique Australian-based charity and social enterprise, whose goal is to supply lifesaving soap to children’s lives. The Hotel to Hands Programme subscription, allows us to be sustainable and gives us a way to cover significant costs associated with recycling the soap, such as: freight to pick up, administration for receiving/distribution operation, soap recycling, and soap production equipment.
Soap Aid employs one part-time and one full-time employee to support its administration and is governed by a volunteer board of directors who oversee the organisation.
- How to contribute?
- Donations can be made via our website donate and through the GiveGet platform.
- Employers can make contributions via the workplace-giving platform GOOD2Give.
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