Shinola helping the needy one soap at a time

Shinola Hotel, a luxury property located in downtown Detroit, has partnered with Clean the World, an organization that collects discarded soap and other hygiene products from hotels and donates them to people in need.

In every shipment, the property donates roughly 1,000 bars of soap and 800 shampoo and conditioner bottles. In a year, it will have donated 2,000 lbs. of soap and 100,000 travel-sized plastic bottles.

Mark O’Brien, the hotel’s general manager, said that the collaboration came about after “a team member in our housekeeping department presented the idea of partnering with Clean the World. We vetted the company, and it aligned with our hotel’s culture.”

The GM is proud of the hotel’s effort in helping those in need. “Taking a product that would normally go to a landfill and repurposing it to help those in need is the right thing to do,” he said. “We need more of this at both a personal and business level.”

The property, housed in two restored buildings—the old T.B. Rayl & Co. sporting goods and hardware store and a former Singer sewing-machine store—with three new buildings modeled after downtown Detroit’s historic architecture. It offers 129 guestrooms, from which the soap and plastic bottles are gathered.

“Our housekeepers collect the soap and bottles when our guests check out,” said O’Brien. “The product is then packaged and sent to Clean the World.”

The organization takes the donations, sanitizes and grinds the soap and cuts them into new bars ready for distribution.

Shinola Hotel is one of more than 8,000 hotel and resort partners that donates recycled soap and hygiene products to children and families in countries with a high death rate due to acute respiratory infection (pneumonia) and diarrheal diseases (cholera)—which are two of the top killers of children under 5 and are significantly reduced by hand washing with soap. Clean the World has distributed more than 53 million bars of soap in 127 countries since its inception in 2009.