Who Gives a Crap - improving the world one wipe at a time

* 5 min read

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Next in our Sustainability Pioneers series Gillian, a converted subscriber of Who Gives a Crap, applauds them for thinking differently, being willing to take risks and push boundaries.

 

 

Until recently, many commodity products were stagnant, leaving premium, giftable or higher price point items to explore new and different packaging formats and purchasing models. This is no longer the case: from washing detergent to razors, we‘ve seen a huge shift in purchasing routes. However, today I want to talk about one of the most sought-after products of 2020, specifically at the start of lock-down… yes, I bet you stocked up too even if you didn’t really need it! Let’s talk toilet paper.

Over the last few years, a host of start-ups have disrupted the toilet paper market and started the toilet paper revolution. Okay ‘revolution’ may be a strong word, but we now have options that were never available to us before. We have the option to buy in bulk, without filling our whole trolley at a supermarket, and we can buy through subscription, so no need to ever run out. Importantly, we can also buy based on sustainability and ethical credentials rather than on cute puppies and koalas.

The first of the new generation of toilet paper companies is Who Gives a Crap. The company launched with an Indiegogo campaign in July 2012, after the founders learnt that:

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Over 2 billion people don’t have access to a toilet, roughly 40% of the global population. The sad fact is hundreds of thousands of children suffer every year from diseases caused by poor water and sanitation.
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So, they made it their explicit aim for Who Gives a Crap to make enough profit to donate to sanitation infrastructure.

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Image source: Who Gives a Crap

Who Gives a Crap is a certified B corporation, that donates 50% of its profits to a variety of organisations around the world. These organisations might dig pit latrines, install septic systems, or maintain clean and safe toilets, those who are doing the highest impact work receive unrestricted funding. Who Gives a Crap was built on the idea that ‘we can make the world a better place by helping people make little choices that give back’ and they are certainly delivering. On the 6th July this year they donated £3.2million (or $5.85 million Aus dollars / $4million US dollars), five times greater than 2020: this is fantastic, and it all started with a crowd funding initiative, amazing!

It’s not just its ethical and sustainability credentials that makes it great, it’s also a premium feeling product with well-considered packaging. Although I am not a ‘plastic hater’, I love the fact Who Gives a Crap is plastic free through conscious thought and analysis. Each individual roll is double the number of sheets compared to conventional toilet paper and individually wrapped in paper with modern graphics which you’d be happy to display in your bathroom. They could be wrapped in bundles of six, but the specification would need to be heavier to protect the product, so there’s no benefit.

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Image source: Who Gives a Crap

I also love the re-use encouraged by Who Gives a Crap. All of us with kids are accomplished at making ‘stuff’ from toilet paper cores and yoghurt pots but this is really encouraged on its website and not just by kids. Importantly, it’s also not just from the core but also from the outer wrapper too and why not? I think every design is worth celebrating and putting on display for a little longer. I’m sure you’re thinking, so what’s the downside, is it 10x more expensive? It is more expensive than ‘traditional’ supermarket bought toilet paper but not by much. It works out around 25p more expensive when comparing rolls, but remember, Who Gives a Crap are double length rolls so that’s only 12.5p difference and I think it’s well worth it.

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The biggest downside of toilet paper is that generally it is bad; bad for the environment, bad for plumbing and bad for energy consumption BUT if we make the right choices, we can also do some good.
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What I love most about this brand is that it thinks differently, it was willing to take a risk before anyone else and push boundaries. They identified a need before many customers were even aware of the problem and they (and millions of people globally) are seeing the benefits now. So, next time you go to the toilet, just have a think about the choices you make and how you could make a difference. I’m a converted subscriber to Who Gives a Crap and an advocate for all things sustainable. Who else wants to make sure their success (as a business or as an individual) is directly tied to our impact on our planet?

Key takeouts:
  • Ethics and sustainability go hand in hand and should be at the heart of every business
  • Communication is key: use relatable language in fun ways to educate all
  • Be creative: think differently from beginning to end (or maybe there is no end with re-use!)
  • Make the right choices: change qualified by data
  • Disrupt: be brave and challenge tradition even if it’s scary

 

The Author: Gillian Garside-Wight - Sustainability Partner

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What’s your experience? Join the conversation on LinkedIn.