We all do it in hotels.
We all swipe some of those little bottles of shampoo and gaily wrapped nubs of soap.
When you don't bring a few of those products home, it feels like leaving money on the table. Sure, some hotels have moved toward large dispensers that limit waste, but at many properties, those little bottles are still available, and when you check out, what's left behind is usually discarded for sanitary reasons. So many of us grab 'em as we go, but forget to use them up, cluttering our own bathrooms.
There's a better way for this scenario to play out. Donate the loot (it's best if the containers have not been opened) to someone who will actually use these goods. The donation will be warmly accepted. As Amenity Aid (see below) phrases it, "Because of their size, hotel amenities are ideal for emergency shelters, other short stay housing programs, and community centers that operate soup kitchens and other social service programs."
Here are some options:
Homeless Shelters and Women's Shelters
When people have to use these facilities, they usually bring with them very few items and are under great emotional stress. The comfort of having high-quality bath products is therefore both a practical blessing and has immeasurable spiritual value.
The Homeless Shelters Directory lists shelters in all 50 states, county by county and city by city. The website provides information on the types of populations (veterans, women, families with children, men only) served by each shelter, as well as the organizations' addresses, websites, and phone numbers. Contact a place near you to see if they take donations—most do.
The nationwide directory Women's Shelters offers the same types of information about domestic violence shelters, family shelters, transitional housing for women, and emergency shelters.
The American Red Cross, the Military Order Purple Heart Foundation, the National Federation of the Blind, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul all use Green Drop to streamline the donation process.
Along with clothing, shoes, blankets, bedding, electronics, toys, and sporting goods, Green Drop accepts unopened toiletries by both pickup and drop-off. On its site, there's a form where you can enter your zip code to find the nearest drop center.
Toiletries Amnesty describes itself as "a social, ethical and environmental organization working across the U.K. and abroad to relieve hygiene poverty and stop products from going to waste." It has now helped over a million people and diverted thousands of tons of waste from landfills. The organization has three outlets in the United States.
This Rhode Island-based charity specifically collects shampoos, conditioners, and soaps to "improve the health and well-being of vulnerable populations by creating access to essential hygiene products." It works with 21 non-profits in the state, it prioritizes hotel toiletries, and it accepts mailed donations.