January 22, 2014

Statler Recycles Toiletries to Aid Disaster-Stricken

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By SLOANE GRINSPOON

The Statler Hotel has partnered with Clean the World, a nonprofit that recycles discarded soap and shampoo products from the hospitality industry and redistributes them to communities in need — both domestic and foregin — in order to give bathroom amenities a second life.

This initiative is the latest in a series of environmental efforts at the hotel, including a transition to more linen-free tables and energy-efficient heat management systems in hotel conference rooms. The Statler has been recognized for its efforts and in March, the hotel won the New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association’s 2014 Good Earthkeeping award.

Since the initiative began in March, the hotel has recycled 1,565 pounds of waste and sent 3,676 bars of soap to Clean the World, which then sanitizes soap bars, repurposes plastic containers and ships them to disaster-stricken and impoverished communities worldwide.

According to Rebecca Rypkema, the director of rooms at the Statler, the initiative is working well largely thanks to the support of the hotel’s housekeeping staff.

“The fact that we got the buy-in from our staff members is huge,” she said. “They were really excited to be able to help. Many of them are from countries all around the world, so they know firsthand the need for programs like this.”

By promoting hand-washing and other hygienic practices in countries that receive their toiletries, Clean the World helps to reduce global diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections, which together claim over five million lives each year, according to the website of Hersha Hospitality Management, a partner of Clean the World.

To create more of a local impact, the hotel hopes to bring kits of some of Clean the World’s recycled hygiene products to Ithaca, Rypkema said.

Because graduates of the School of Hotel Administration manage hotels worldwide, this initiative will have an impact that extends beyond Ithaca, according to Administrative Assistant Roger Soule, who coordinates the toiletry recycling initiative. Soule said that students who are trained at the Statler will be able to bring the trend of recycling bathroom toiletries to their future workplaces.

“We train future hotel managers that go all over the world,” he said.

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