During a trip to rural parts of Columbia in 2014, Samir Lakhani sighted a woman bathing her infant baby using toxic laundry detergent. After some research, he realised that only one per cent of the population of developing countries have access to bathing soaps.
He also noted that while most of the rural population faces a scarcity of soaps, most hotels and motels provide free soaps to their guests which majorly remain unused, partially used, or go to waste.
So, Samir decided to launch an initiative to collect and distribute these extra soaps to the poor.
He started Eco Soap Bank in 2014 which collects partially used soaps from different locations, sanitises and sterilises them to make fresh soaps. These freshly prepared soap bars are then given to poor people for free.
Samir says that they currently have 16 recycling branches in 10 developing countries. And in the past eight years, they have recycled 1.4 million pounds of soap and have received nine million soap donations.
“No child should suffer from a preventable illness because there wasn’t any soap availability,” says the founder.
Other than just distributing soaps, the initiative makes employment opportunities for women in poverty-stricken areas and also helps to prevent the spread of communicable diseases caused due to lack of hygiene.
Samir, the mastermind behind Eco Soap Bank, bagged a position in the top 10 CNN Hero for 2017 and the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in 2020.
Watch this video to know more about this initiative:
(Edited by Pranita Bhat)