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IMU helps recycle, repurpose 6,500 pounds of soap

Aug. 10, 2016

When rooms inside the IMU get cleaned between guests, housekeepers save a very interesting item: soap.

hospitality items

IMU housekeeper Jeanalei Matos collects toiletries while cleaning a room at the Biddle Hotel. | Photo By CHAZ MOTTINGER, IU COMMUNICATIONS

For almost two years, the IMU has been collecting and shipping leftover soaps and shampoos to Clean the World, an organization dedicated to making hygiene products accessible to people worldwide.

Mike Campbell, associate director of the IMU, said the soaps left behind in guest bedrooms after people have checked out is mailed to Clean the World’s Orlando building, where it is sanitized and recycled into brand new products that can be distributed nationally and worldwide. 

Campbell said he first saw a presentation on the organization at the Association of College Unions International, and was immediately interested in getting the IMU involved.

Campbell said Clean the World works with hotel chains and individual establishments all over the country.

In August, the IMU will have been working with clean the world for two years. To date, they have shipped close to 6,500 pounds of soap to Clean the World.

“It does fit within our green IMU mission and being a socially responsible partner,” Campbell said.

Along with participating, Campbell said he has been helping other Big Ten universities like the University of Iowa to get involved by putting them in contact with people at Clean the World.

If possible, Campbell said he would like to see university organizations get involved as well.

While 6,500 pounds seems like a lot, but Campbell said the IMU is just a small part of a much bigger picture.

“Any responsible business has to think through ways in which they contribute to the whole society and in ways that make sustainable sense,” he said. “This is certainly one of those.”

The soap the IMU is sending to Clean the World can no longer be used by the IMU, but this recycling process means that none of it will end up in a landfill, he said. Instead, it will be helping people around the world to live happier and healthier lives.

Campbell said the IMU is always looking for organizations like this to which they can contribute.

“At some point it just kind of becomes what you do,” Campbell said. “It’s jut part of our routine.”

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