This startup wants you to 'pinch' your unused hotel toiletries for a good cause

Pinchapoo founder Kate Austin (second from the left).

There are two types of travelers – those who like to keep the mini shampoos and conditioners from hotels as souvenirs, and those who use their own products, leaving the provided amenities untouched.

While there is nothing wrong with either, there is now a way to make sure the latter’s unused products get put to a good use.

Pinchapoo is an Australian start-up charity that encourages travelers staying in hotels to “pinch” unused hotel toiletries so they can be donated to homeless refuges and shelters, giving at-risk Australians access to basic hygiene amenities.

‘Pinched’ Pinchapoo products.

While the startup clarifies that you aren’t “stealing” the toiletries because they are covered in your hotel rate, doing so can help you feel like you’re being a more mindful traveler and work towards helping the 105,237 homeless people in Australia.

The founder of the business, Kate Austin, 34, knows about the struggle of homelessness firsthand.

As a teenager, Austin left a turbulent home life and found herself living in challenging situations. She knows how a simple conveniences like personal toiletries and a shower can make all the difference.

“How can you make choices you never dreamed you would have to make when you don’t feel like you?” she says.

“Pinchapoo has never just been about providing essential hygiene products – it’s about the effect those products can have. It’s about being part of the rehabilitation process and the personal transformation both physically and mentally.”

Thirteen years later in 2009 when Austin had created a successful career as an advertising executive for herself, and had a family of her own, she decided that she wanted to do something that would help others in similar situations that she had been in as a child.

“I pondered these thoughts in the shower one night while using a hotel shampoo we had recently ‘pinched’… It was, as they say, a lightning bolt moment.

“I ran out of the shower shouting ‘Pinchapoo’! My husband said: ‘You can’t call it that’. And so it was born.

“My husband has since learnt you don’t say ‘can’t’ to me.”

This year the company was certified as a not-for-profit, has donated in excess of 400,000 products to refuges and shelters such as VincentCare, Cottage by the Sea, Ardoch Youth Foundation and the Salvation Army, and is 100% run by 40 regular volunteers nationally.

“Every unused and unwanted sample sized toiletry can be put to good use, and creates access to basic hygiene amenities for every Australian,” she says.

“Passing on some soap for a shower is a simple gesture, but it means much more. It’s about the power of a new beginning, re-gaining self-esteem, honouring the basic human right to physical and mental well-being, and building foundations of trust and self-worth.”

She says it’s also a great solution for charities, allowing them to focus on their own organisational objectives rather than sourcing products.

“Resources that were previously spent on the constant sourcing of product from non-reliable sources are better put towards supporting those in their time of need.

“Pinchapoo is able to work with partners on an individual basis – catering to specific needs and circumstances with a range of single use and full size products.”

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