Calgary

Calgary non-profit that diverts products from landfill says demand up, donations down

A Calgary organization that diverts unused toiletries away from the landfill and into the hands of those who need them says demand has increased exponentially during the pandemic.

Demand for hygienic products up 174% non-profit says

A volunteer stands behind rows of soap ready to go to shelters, transitional homes, food banks, schools and seniors facilities. (James Young/CBC)

A Calgary organization that diverts unused toiletries away from the landfill and into the hands of those who need them says demand has increased exponentially during the pandemic.

Soap for Hope provides hygiene amenities to shelters, transitional homes, food banks, schools and seniors facilities, relying largely on donations from hotels which would otherwise be thrown in the trash. The donated linens, lotion, soap, shampoo and conditioner are cleaned, mended and sent to community facilities. 

WATCH | How this Calgary non-profit is keeping hotel soap out of the landfill:

This Calgary charity is finding uses for those little hotel soaps and shampoos you didn't use

4 months ago
Duration 4:42
Hotels produce a lot of waste every year. Soap for Hope teams up with hotels to put items like soap, shampoo, and bedsheets into the hands of people who need them, while keeping it out of the landfill.

"We've had a large increase in demand, unfortunately, due to COVID. More and more people are needing access to hygiene," said Tanaya Jilg, program director at Soap for Hope Canada Society Calgary. 

The hospitality industry has been able to donate less as occupancy rates have been down over the past two years, she said. 

Tanaya Jilg, program director at Soap for Hope Canada Society Calgary stands in front of donations which will go to people at shelters, transitional homes, food banks, schools and seniors facilities. (James Young/CBC)

She says demand for the organization's products grew 174 per cent in 2021, but right now they are still able to support those who need it. 

Grey Eagle Resort Hotel has worked with Soap for Hope for the past three years. Maryse Miller, assistant housekeeping manager, says pre-pandemic the hotel sent bins of items to the organization every week. Now it has tapered to bi-weekly as the hotel has fewer guests, creating less product to be donated. 

But Miller says being able to reuse products is a benefit. 

Maryse Miller, assistant housekeeping manager at Grey Eagle Resort Hotel says prior to donating to Soap for Hope many of the hygienic products used in rooms at the hotel went to the landfill. (James Young/CBC)

"Everything was just going into the landfill. All of the room product was just going in with our regular garbage waste…We didn't really have anywhere to send them," she said. 

"Especially during COVID times, things are really difficult for all of us and knowing that if we can help just one person, then that means that we're doing our job."

Jilg says the outlook is good as the hotel industry starts to pick up again. She says the company has also recently partnered with Banff Springs Hotel, Chateau Lake Louise and Jasper Park Lodge. 

"The amount that we're going to be able to divert from the landfill from them is astronomical."

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