Six Years and Counting

The original Soap Cycling student team

Two thousand one hundred and ninety days; 150,000+ pounds of soap bars recycled, 2,500,000+ bars distributed across Asia; 350 one-litre bottles, 10,000 50ml bottles of shampoo and bath gel upcycled into 27,000 hygiene kits distributed locally; 220+ student interns, 24,200+ hours of youth leadership experience; 14,000+ volunteers, 56,000+ hours of service. None of these an easy feat, and every one a cause for celebration.

Happy sixth anniversary, Soap Cycling!

The story of Soap Cycling began in 2012, when David Bishop, Principal Lecturer at the Business Faculty of The University of Hong Kong, came up with the idea of founding an organization that would provide his students with meaningful internship opportunities while nurturing youth leadership and entrepreneurship. “Many kids in Hong Kong never really get an opportunity to take chances. Their lives can be critically over-managed by parents to the point where they grow up in a bubble. So I asked a group of my students if they would be willing to run a company if I put my time and money into starting such a business. I gave them a few plausible business ideas, and they chose Soap Cycling.” And the rest is history.

Soap Cycling's founder, HKU professor David Bishop, speaking to the assembled crowd at the organisation's launch ceremony - Sept 25, 2012

In the six years since its inception, Soap Cycling has collected lightly-used soap bars from hotel partners in Hong Kong, China, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, and then distributed the reprocessed soap to communities who lack access to sanitation and hygiene resources in the Philippines, Cambodia, Singapore, Burma, Nepal, China and at home in Hong Kong. Today, the collection and upcycling effort has expanded to include single-use liquid hotel amenities, which are turned into hygiene kits for those in need locally, just as the original mission of youth empowerment has later broadened to also include engagement of disadvantaged communities of local minorities, elderly, and disabled. Today, Soap Cycling has a presence in not just Hong Kong, but also China and Singapore, owed in large part to its hardworking and passionate student interns, but no less to its growing army of volunteers, NGO and hotel partners, and corporate supporters.

To call Soap Cycling a charity organization is an understatement - it is where single-use soap bars are given a second life to save lives, where youths frustrated with the lack of upward mobility unlock their potential in social entrepreneurship and learn about social responsibility, where corporate executives can give back to society, where disadvantaged individuals are provided with opportunities for community engagement.

And it all started with a single used soap bar, mindlessly discarded, despite its infinite life-changing possibilities.