Michael Figueroa, assistant executive housekeeper at the Peabody Orlando, kicked off the morning with a pep talk. At 8 a.m., he gathered the staff around an easel displaying the Clean the World logo and details.
“We support Haiti with our soaps,” he said to the workers, 60 percent of whom immigrated from the impoverished nation. “So remember, during the workday, please collect the soaps in your little bags.”
The women, dressed in pleated gray dresses and black aprons, dispersed to claim their laden carts.
The day before, I had joined housekeeper Celine DeRosier during her morning rounds. We started in the bathroom of Room 23109. DeRosier, a mother of four who moved to Florida from Haiti in 1985, swept the counter of used products, collecting one bottle each of shampoo, conditioner and lotion, plus two soaps, including one in the shape of the iconic Peabody duck. She tossed the toiletries into a plastic bag already two layers thick with recycled goods. Then she returned to the shower with a bottle of disinfectant and a rag.
“I am happy to help the people who have nothing,” DeRosier said as she moved into the bedroom. “Most of the time people put it in the trash, and someone can use it.”
During my stint with DeRosier, we gathered several handfuls of toiletries in rooms awaiting new guests. If the soap looked slightly used or wet, she bagged it. If the item sat in the shower or rested on the lip of the tub, she tossed it in — even full bottles of shampoo, conditioner and lotion. We left one suite empty-handed, however; the visitors had brought their own products and hadn’t dripped on or opened any of the hotel’s toiletries.
Since signing up with Clean the World in 2009, the 1,641-room hotel has contributed more than 54,000 bars of soap, enough to provide almost 11,000 children with a month’s supply, and 8,925 pounds of bottled amenities, enough for 6,347 children for an entire month. Now multiply that figure by daily deliveries of more than 100 boxes of soaps to Clean the World, and you’re swimming in suds.