Melbourne local Mike Matulick has seen first hand the level of waste created by the hospitality industry. As CEO of a supplier of hotel amenities, he realised this waste could be used to do good. Matulick’s vision is to end the preventable mortality in the developing world caused by poor hygiene, and to cut waste and the build up of landfill. Soap Aid is an Australian charity with a double-edged agenda.
Matulick created Soap Aid in 2011. It’s a not-for-profit that repurposes used soap from hotel rooms around Australia and sends it to the developing world where a simple bar of soap can help prevent death and disease.
Its focus is to improve children’s lives in disadvantaged communities through the education and facilitation of improved hygiene practices. The organisation also reduces waste by collecting and recycling soap that would’ve ended up in landfill.
The charity achieves its goals through a strong partnership with Rotary International, which travels to various hotels to collect the soap and bring it to the repurposing facility. The organisation’s connections around the world also enables it to distribute the soap.
“We break the waste soap back down to almost a raw material, run it through a series of filters to purify the product, then repurpose it into a fresh bar of soap, re-stamped and re-born,” says Matulick.
In many of the countries it works in, soap is not available or is too expensive, and is not a priority. The charity, in conjunction with health workers on the ground, has identified target communities with the highest rates of childhood mortality from a lack of adequate sanitation. They then ensure the delivery of Soap Aid soap and education materials.
Matulick says Soap Aid’s impact is broader than just creating good hygiene habits. “By addressing, and hopefully conquering, illness borne from poor sanitation, we can ensure individuals are sick less, and therefore households and communities can be more profitable and can prosper.”
The charity is the first to conduct this work in Australia and aims to create a wider global impact through reaching more communities around the world as it continues to grow.