Pneumonia and diarrhoea are the top two causes of mortality among children worldwide, according to World Health Organization. Together, these diseases account for nearly 30 percent of deaths of children who are less than five years old and lead to the loss of 2 million young lives each year.
In India, 50 percent of malnutrition cases is associated with repeated diarrhoea or intestinal worm infections due to unsafe water, poor sanitation or hygiene. Risks to these preventable diseases can be mitigated by observing good hygiene practices including washing of hands with soap.
Hilton and non-profit organization Sundara recently announced that they have been working together to counter these causes and positively impact people in the communities in Mumbai through their soap recycling partnership which began in July 2016.
Each month Sundara works with partners including Hilton – its largest hospitality partner in India – to deliver soap and hygiene trainings to over 4,000 children and families in Mumbai. The NGO also conduct similar trainings regularly conducted for adults and children at medical centres in the Kalwa slums. Participating Hilton hotels collect partially used soap from guest rooms and donate them to Sundara who in turn sanitizes and recycles the soap, and finally delivers the new soap bars to local communities, alongside the hygiene trainings.
Erin Zaikis, founder of Sundara, said, “For years now, Sundara along with its partners has been working hard to train on hand hygiene awareness, thereby reducing preventable diseases that are caused by poor hygiene conditions. We try to bring in the idea of shared responsibility for this problem by involving community members and corporations at every level of our work. Hilton has been such a supportive partner from the start and has helped us grow our impact immensely as a part of their sustainability efforts.”
On Hilton’s partnership with Sundara , Andre A. Gomez, head of operations – India, Hilton, said, “Hilton’s participation in soap recycling supports our global corporate responsibility strategy, Travel with Purpose, to preserve our environment and strengthen the communities in which we live, work and travel. We now have nine Hilton hotels in India recovering and donating soap on a regular basis, and through our partnership with Sundara, we aim to make a positive impact in people’s lives by promoting hygiene and community health, while reducing the environmental impact of soap waste.”
In Mumbai, Sundara has trained nine women to recycle soap full time and 26 local women to become local hygiene ambassadors. Several women from the communities who are a part of this programme and have become the hygiene ambassadors of Sundara are happy to have found a dignified source of livelihood in their society.
Since 2011, more than 1,600 Hilton hotels have been involved in soap and amenity recycling, donating more than 45,300 kilograms (over 1,000,000 pounds) of used soap and distributed over 5,000,000 new bars of soap.