Who thinks that much about soap?
Shawn Seipler, that’s who. In a previous life, Seipler worked for a tech company and found himself on the road nearly five months out of the year. One night he was looking at a bar of soap he’d used once, and pondered its fate.
“I called down to the front desk and asked what they did with all the leftover soap,” he says. The reply: It got tossed. The more Seipler looked into the situation, the more appalled he was at the scale of the waste in America. "That," he says, "is when I learned about rebatching.”
Rebatching is a process that converts old soap into fresh soap: melting it down, reforming it, and turning it back out good as new. Once he learned soap could be recycled, Seipler began to research its uses. He found that, worldwide, thousands of children die every day from ailments such as pneumonia and diarrhea, both of which the World Health Organization finds are largely preventable with proper hygiene.
“Then it was just a matter of figuring out how to get the soap to recycle, and getting into their hands,” he said. “It was an aha moment, and I realized this was my calling. I called my Puerto Rican relatives and they said ‘let’s do it.' Pretty soon we were sitting in my garage on pickle buckets with vegetable peelers, cooking soap.” After explaining the process to understandably concerned police who stopped by during the first cook session, Seipler got his company up and running.