“Hygiene is not just a question of cleanliness: it affects dignity and self-esteem. Today, far too many people are deprived of it! “, still indignant Pauline Grumel. This 37-year-old Lyonnaise created, a little over three years ago, the Unisoap association, which makes it possible to recover hygiene products wasted by hotel establishments to give them to the most disadvantaged populations. Since then, six tonnes of material have been collected to make 20,000 new bars of soap, part of which has already been distributed to associations.
A united manufacturing process
It was during a stay at a hotel in 2017 that Pauline Grumel was first challenged by the quantity of products wasted by hotel customers: by venturing into calculations, she discovered that 50 millions of bars of soap go into the trash every year.
“It’s a phenomenal waste, when we know that 3 million people cannot afford to buy basic products in France, and that millions more are dying because of it in developing countries! She says. The young woman then worked in the communication agency that she founded ten years earlier but which she left after a few months. She launches out, alone, in the creation of a structure which she baptizes “Unisoap” (“soap” meaning “soap” in English).
→ VIDEO. Hygiene kits for the poorest
She will spend nearly a year knocking on the doors of hotels, where she discovers that some chambermaids are already stockpiling, and asking local associations to help people in need. “Who were just waiting for that!” “. While the pot to finance her project slowly fills, she approaches an engineer and a cosmetics expert to set up a process “Confidential” recycling, “Because we are the first to do this in France! “, she recalls.
And this accustomed to humanitarian and ecological action adds a new touch of solidarity: the production of these breads of 100 g each, will be entirely ensured by workers with disabilities, via Work Assistance Establishments and Services ( Esat) local.
The health crisis effect
Pauline Grumel still remembers the eyes “Surprised and moved” beneficiaries during the very first distribution, organized with the Restos du cœur. “Some even took the time to come and see us to tell us that the soaps were beautiful and that they smelled good! “, she says. Today, Unisoap has more than 150 partner hotels and distributes its soaps “Like new” all over France, thanks to dozens of charitable associations, including the Secours populaire or the Salvation Army.
Now made up of five people, the team has been “Particularly in demand” this year, while the Covid-19 crisis has caused precariousness to explode at the same time as health conditions have deteriorated. First funded by donations, particularly from individuals and hotels, this ecological and solidarity project is now supported by several foundations and would like to expand its offer “With complete hygiene kits, intended for homeless people but also for refugees or students”, confides Pauline Grumel.