Thursday, October 22, 2015

Soap Cycling with Hands on Hong Kong

Activity: Soap Cycling with Hands on Hong Kong
Date: Saturday, October 17
Time: 3 hours (10:30 to 1:30)
Type: Group (with friends)
Organization: Soap Cycling (LINK) & HandsOn Hong Kong (LINK)

Hours: 3 hours - Service  

On Saturday, I went with a few of my friends to help out HandsOn Hong Kong with one the several projects they helped organize, Soap Cycling!

What this organization does is simply take used hotel soap from all over Hong Kong (Hong Kong being an international fiance city has a LOT of hotels) and makes them into new bars of soap that get sent out to those in need to improve sanitation.

I was involved in the first step of scraping off the used and dirty parts of the soap (you can check out the whole process HERE!)

And without further delay, here are my reflections for Soap Cycling!

5) Shown perseverance and commitment in my activities
This activity involved a surprising amount of perseverance, despite being much shorter than many of my other activities. At first, I thought the 3 hour session would be very easy. After all, how hard could cleaning soap be?

Shaving soap, trying not to poke through the gloves with the knife
 Well, what I didn't think about was the overwhelming smell that a warehouse full of hotel soap smells like. (We could smell it from the elevator!) 

I wasn't alone, many of the other new volunteers also were overpowered by the smell and were quickly left with runny noses!  Still, I persevered though the entire event and by the end of it, I hardly noticed the smell at all!

6) Engaged with issues of global importance
 It is not every day that the things you do are related issues of global importance. (well, typing this on my electricity consuming laptop is contributing to global warming, but I digress)
Soap cycling however was one of those activites.

Boxes and boxes of soap!
By doing my small part and spending my weekend morning scraping soap, another volunteer could turn it into a new bar of soap, which would packed by another person, loaded in a car or truck, driven to an air port, loaded onto a plane, flown across the world and given to someone in need. 
Not bad for the morning of a teenage girl in Hong Kong!

7) Considered the ethical implications of my actions 
Volunteering with Soap Cycling made me realize how much waste I often produce without realizing it. Not once before did I consider or even think about what happens to the bars of soap left behind at hotels after a trip (usually it just goes in the trash)

My soap shaving "station"

To see mountain and mountains of boxes each brimming with soap really made me stop and think about how privileged I was to be in a position where I could afford to waste somthing that would be lifesaving somewhere else.

While shaving soap, I came across a mickey mouse soap, clearly from a HK Disneyland Resort hotel ( I didn't take a photo but it looked a bit like this, albeit less new looking)
Credit goes to Missyprisey at HERE
As I was holding it in my hands, shaving away, I thought of the how the person who originally used the soap probably spend a lot of money on this trip to Disneyland, money that could be spent on other more worthwhile causes and didn't think twice about the waste they were producing.

 But then I remembered, hadn't I, like this mysterious person, gone on trips before just for fun, not for any real necessity or purpose other than for fun? How many times had left a bar of soap behind that would have just been thrown away?

It made me think more deeply about the role soap cycling played in the hospitality industry of HK, as well as the ways little insignificant actions have large consequences when added together. It also reminded me how important it was not only to find ways to prevent waste, but also to help others in the process.
Maybe more places should follow HK's lead and start soap cycling programs? :P
 (Sorry for the insanely long and text heavy post! Also that ending is really profound sounding don't you think?)
- Rebecca

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