Downtown Eastside charity creates green jobs for low-income women to help African children
A Vancouver charity is collecting discarded soaps and lotions from B.C. hotels and hiring at-risk Downtown Eastside women to repackage them for donations around the world.
On Monday, Mission Possible will launch the soap recycling program at their Powell Street location.
The Downtown Eastside charity will collect the discarded amenities from participating hotels, at a nominal fee of $1 per room per month, said Brian Postlewait, executive director of the Mission Possible. The soaps and bottles will then be newly sanitized and repackaged, ready to be sent to homeless shelters locally and worldwide.
“Over 3.5 million deaths occur every year from respiratory infections and digestive infections in children under five,â€ Postlewait said. “These deaths are preventable – up to 60 per cent just with proper hand washing.â€
The message hits close to home for Grace Edge, one of the six women hired to work on the recycling project.
“I know what itâ€™s like to be dirty,â€ said Edge, 49, a recovering alcoholic and drug user, and former sex worker. “Iâ€™ve lived on the streets and at one time, I didnâ€™t care about being clean.
“But now that I have two kids I sponsor in Africa, this [program] really touches my heart. Clean body… clean mind.â€ Edge said.
Edge, along with the other women, will be earning $10 per hour, and working 10 to 15 hours per week.
Boxes full of soaps, shampoos and lotions have already started arriving from hotels and the goal is to process 10,000 soaps bars a day.
The program, the first of its kind in Canada, is a “win-win for everyone,â€ Postlewait said.
“This is good for the environment, because itâ€™s recycling. And you are creating green dignified jobs for women at-risk while saving the lives of children around the world,â€ he said.
Postlewait expects the recycling program to be self-sustainable, including covering the costs of shipping the discarded amenities and wages. He added the soap sanitization procedure requires little training.
Several hotels, including the Holiday Inn, Delta Vancouver, and the Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta, have signed up, with the numbers continuously growing.
Cristina Baldini, a manager at The Beach Club Resort in Parkville, Vancouver Island, said signing up made perfect business sense.
“We care about sustainability and our guests want to know what we are doing that is green,â€ she said.
Source: The Province