35 Moments of doing Better

How your soap is saving lives

Twenty-nine tonnes of carbon dioxide diverted from the earth’s atmosphere; 12,213 litres of fuel saved; more than 12,000 lives positively impacted – they’re big numbers, and they’re possible thanks to something small enough to fit in the palm of your hand: a bar of soap.

This year, Quest has begun an ongoing partnership with Soap Aid, an organisation that collects waste soap, then cleans and processes it for distribution in vulnerable communities around the world where lack of sanitation can have tragic consequences. And if Quest diverts 20,000 kg of soap every year to Soap Aid, those big numbers can become reality.

“Soap Aid's mission is to save lives through improved hygiene, whilst positively impacting the environment,” says Sue McDonald, Non-Executive director of Soap Aid, which was founded in 2011 by Michael Matulick (now Managing Director, APAC, of Hunter Amenities). “It means the soap is not ending up in landfill.” Indeed, it’s estimated that around the world every day accommodation providers discard five million bars of waste soap.

In Quest’s first year of working with Soap Aid, this initiative can impact 5550 adult lives and the lives of 7300 children around the world, including right here in Australia. “Soap Aid distributes soap across Australia as well as Asia and the Pacific and Soap Aid also works with impact partners in India and across Africa,” says Sue. But, she explains, “if we added up all of the states in Australia, this country would be our number one destination.” So far, over one million bars have been distributed to Indigenous communities across Australia.

In 2023 alone, up to the month of September, Soap Aid has recycled 2.9 million bars of waste soap through its Hotels to Hands program. And, Sue adds, there are benefits to keeping the re-processed soap in the country. “We save money on fuel and we save tons of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere.”

“Becoming a partner of Soap Aid just makes sense for Quest Apartment Hotels,” says Anthea Dimitrakopoulos, General Manager of Brand and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) of The Ascott Limited, Australia. “It reflects our values to care for our communities, while also limiting our impact on the environment.”

“It’s a win-win for us,” says Charlene Ackland, business owner of Quest on Franklin in Adelaide, South Australia. “We’re excited about joining the Soap Aid initiative to improve health and hygiene standards for many children whilst also redirecting soap from landfill.”

According to Sue, it’s really “a very simple equation: The more used soap that we can get from hotels within Australia, the more lives we can save.”

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