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    • Hotel Soap: A Standard Amenity with an Interesting HistoryHotels have been providing soap as an amenity since the early 20th century, making it the most used item despite being inconvenient for guests to take home and contributing to significant waste.

      The commonplace use of hotel soaps has an interesting history and economic significance. Hotels began offering soap as an amenity in the early 20th century, and it has remained a standard feature ever since. Today, soap is the most utilized hotel room amenity, with 86% of guests using it, despite it being a single-use item that is inconvenient for guests to carry home. With an estimated 56 million hotel rooms worldwide and a high occupancy rate, the amount of soap used annually is substantial. Despite this, most hotels dispose of the used soap, leading to a significant waste. This story highlights the power of consumer expectations and the influence of copycat trends in the hotel industry.

    • From recycling soap in a garage to a global enterpriseTom Seippler's determination to reduce waste and improve global health led him to create Clean the World, a nonprofit that recycles soap and distributes it worldwide.

      Tom Seippler, the founder of Clean the World, was driven by the idea of reducing waste and saving lives. He started by recycling used hotel soap bars into new ones in his garage, but soon realized that there was a greater need for soap in communities in need around the world. After facing rejection from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seippler persevered and founded Clean the World, a nonprofit organization that recycles soap and distributes it globally. The process of recycling soap involves grinding it through a meat grinder and filtering out impurities, resulting in a new bar of soap. Seippler's determination to address both waste reduction and global health issues led to the creation of a successful enterprise that continues to make a significant impact.

    • Recycling Hotel Soaps for Communities in NeedClean the World recycles 1.4 million hotel rooms' worth of soap daily, diverting £22 million of waste and distributing 75 million bars of soap. However, more can be done to reduce unused soap in landfills by incentivizing travelers to bring their own.

      Clean the World is a socially responsible organization that recycles lightly used hotel soaps and redistributes them to communities in need. The process involves blending different types and fragrances of soap together, adding sterilization solution, and carefully determining the right amount of water for the mixture. The soap is then formed into unique, marble-like bars and shipped to various countries. The organization faced initial financial challenges but found success by pitching the service as a premium offering for hotels, reducing landfill waste, and providing good PR. Today, Clean the World recycles over 1.4 million hotel rooms' worth of soap daily and has diverted £22 million of waste while distributing 75 million bars of soap. However, a significant amount of unused soap still ends up in landfills each year, and Cornell's Chekatan suggests addressing the root cause by incentivizing travelers to bring their own soap. Despite these challenges, Clean the World's efforts demonstrate the potential for businesses to make a positive impact on the environment and communities.

    • Learning from Unexpected SourcesEngage with diverse communities and join their online forums to uncover unique perspectives and insights, adding depth and nuance to complex issues.

      Interesting and valuable information can be found from unexpected sources. The host of the podcast shares his passion for speaking with diverse individuals and learning about their unique experiences and perspectives. He emphasizes the importance of going directly to the source when reporting on a topic, rather than relying solely on experts or broad analyses. The host's methodology involves engaging with various communities and joining their online forums to gain insights from individuals who may not typically be featured in mainstream media. By doing so, he uncovers fascinating connections and stories that add depth and nuance to complex issues. In essence, the key takeaway is that the ordinary can be extraordinary when approached with curiosity and a willingness to listen to those often overlooked in the conversation.

    • The Economics of Private Facebook GroupsJoining private Facebook groups requires respecting privacy and making a compelling case to moderators, offering valuable insights and knowledge not easily accessible to experts.

      There are private Facebook groups dedicated to various niche topics, and sometimes, individuals with genuine curiosity can join these groups by contacting the moderators and making a compelling case. These groups offer a wealth of knowledge and insights that may not be readily available to experts. The process involves respecting privacy and not invading it, and if denied entry, one can try to join alternative groups. This episode of "The Economics of Everyday Things" podcast discussed the economics of private Facebook groups and the importance of curiosity and persistence. The podcast covers various everyday topics and encourages listeners to suggest future topics. The episode was produced by Sarah Lilly and mixed by Jeremy Johnston, among others. The Freakonomics Radio Network explores the hidden side of everything.

    Recent Episodes from The Economics of Everyday Things

    55. Direct-to-Consumer Mattresses

    55. Direct-to-Consumer Mattresses

    Online companies promised to bring transparency to the mattress-buying experience. Did that work out? Zachary Crockett takes a look under the sheets.

     

     

     

    54. Ghostwriters

    54. Ghostwriters

    Channeling the voices of celebrities can be a lucrative career — one that requires empathy and discretion as well as literary chops. Zachary Crockett checks the acknowledgements.

     

     

    53. Food Trucks

    53. Food Trucks

    How did mobile kitchens become popular with hipster gourmands? And just how much money can a popular truck make from a lunch shift? Zachary Crocket drops some napkins.

     

    • SOURCES:
      • Mariel-Leona Edwards, senior operations manager for Señor Sisig.
      • Matthew Geller, founding president of the National Food Truck Association and C.E.O. of the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association.
      • Evan Kidera, C.E.O. and co-owner of Señor Sisig.

     

     

    52. Little League

    52. Little League

    Youth baseball — long a widely accessible American pastime — has become overrun by $10,000-per-year, for-profit travel leagues. Zachary Crockett peers inside the dugout.

     

    • SOURCES:
      • Linda Flanagan, author.
      • Nick Mackenzie, future New York Yankees shortstop.
      • R.J. Mackenzie, physical education teacher and baseball dad.
      • John Miller, journalist and baseball coach.

     

     

    51. Wine Corks

    51. Wine Corks

    Why do we use a specific kind of tree-bark tissue to seal up 70 percent of wine bottles? Zachary Crockett takes a sniff and gives the waiter a nod.

     

     

    50. Self-Checkout

    50. Self-Checkout

    Grocery stores have turned shoppers into cashiers. Zachary Crockett runs two bags of chips and a Gatorade over the scanner.

     

     

     

    Carnival Games (Replay)

    Carnival Games (Replay)

    Does anyone ever win the giant teddy bear? Zachary Crockett steps right up.

     

    • SOURCES:
      • Matthew Gryczan, retired journalist and engineer.
      • Elliot Simmons, former carnival game worker.
      • Olivia Turner, general manager of Redbone Products.

     

    49. Weather Forecasts

    49. Weather Forecasts

    With industries relying on them and profits to be made, weather forecasts are more precise and more popular than ever. But there are clouds on the horizon. Zachary Crockett grabs an umbrella.

     

    • SOURCES:
      • Steve Adelman, head of Adelman Law Group, PLLC and vice president of the Event Safety Alliance.
      • Peter Neilley, director of weather forecasting sciences and technologies for The Weather Company.

     

     

    48. College Fraternities

    48. College Fraternities

    A fraternity’s budget includes broken windows, liability insurance, chili dog breakfasts, and the occasional $40,000 DJ. Zachary Crockett crashes the party.

     

    • SOURCES:
      • Anthony Anderson, member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.
      • Danielle Logan, owner of Fraternity Management.
      • Charlie O’Neill, member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.
      • Stephen J. Schmidt, professor of economics at Union College.

     

     

    47. Bail Bonds

    47. Bail Bonds

    How does bail work — and who's really paying? Zachary Crockett follows the money.

     

    • SOURCES:
      • Joshua Page, professor of sociology and law at the University of Minnesota.
      • Steven Zalewski, criminal defense attorney and co-owner of Affordable Bails New York.

     

     

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