Student recycling initiative turns old soap into new hope

Enactus SFU’s Soap for Hope hopes to become self-sustainable over the next years. - SFU Flickr
Enactus SFU’s Soap for Hope hopes to become self-sustainable over the next years. - SFU Flickr
Enactus SFU’s Soap for Hope hopes to become self-sustainable over the next years. – SFU Flickr

An innovative new program in the Downtown Eastside has residents bubbling with excitement.

Enactus SFU, a student entrepreneurial group, hopes to make a difference for the residents of the area with their Soap for Hope program.

The initiative was founded in early 2013 and focuses on recycling lightly used soap bars from hotels and turning them into liquid soap, which can then be used at local businesses in the community.

Revenue generated from this exchange is then used to employ individuals in the Downtown Eastside.

“Soap for Hope will impact the Downtown Eastside community as it will provide marginalized individuals with employment opportunities,” said Dorothy Ng, Enactus SFU’s marketing director. “There is a negative stigma associated with the Downtown Eastside, and we want to work towards reducing this by working with restaurants and individuals from that area.”

Enactus SFU currently has a partnership with Mission Possible, an agency dedicated to improving the lives of those who are homeless and living in poverty. The group collects used soap bars from hotels, which they boil and sanitize in order to produce its liquid state.

A stipend generated from the revenue is paid to community volunteers who participate in the production of the liquid soap.

“We decided to implement this program because we found a need for jobs for people who do not have the opportunity to find one, and to find a solution to the vast amount of soap being discarded,” said Hangue Kim, Enactus SFU’s director of external relations. “We found a need for students at SFU to get involved in the community, to develop a program that benefits others and brings students together.”

Enactus SFU is a student-led organization that allows students to make an impact in their community through the use of entrepreneurial skills. It was established as a part of Enactus, a worldwide community of over 66,500 students in 36 countries working to address the social, economic, and environmental needs of their communities.

By connecting students with business leaders, the organisation’s projects are designed to create a long-lasting social change in local communities. SFU’s Enactus team currently has over 100 active members.

Looking forward, the team is working with SFU’s Chemistry Student Society to make their production process more efficient, and to improve the quality of their final product. They are also looking for more volunteers in order to develop the project’s production and distribution practices.

“Success [for the project is] dependent on the end goal, which is for Soap for Hope to become self-sustainable,” said Madhev Menon, the project’s Program Manager.

By bridging the gap between Downtown Eastside residents and students who wish to get involved in the community, Soap for Hope is looking to make a change for years to come.