Who Gives A Crap started when the CEOs discovered that 2.4 billion people don't have access to a toilet. They also learnt that approximately 289,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation …. which is almost 800 children per day. This is why Who Gives A Crap donates 50% of their profits to build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world. They work alongside many impact partners such as WaterAid, Sanergy, Lwala Community Alliance, Shofco, and WaterSHED to maximise their impression.
“we hope that this helps you make an informed choice about the products you buy from us. These are important questions to be asking of companies (and companies to be asking themselves), so thank you for taking the time to ask them”* ** - Who Gives A Crap in response to their FAQs*
They are a wholly transparent company, and I would recommend checking out their FAQ guide and blog which is admirably thorough.
There is the question of the cost of this product to consider here. Although it may seem expensive at £40 for 48 rolls, it is important to do the maths. The average toilet roll company works out their costs per roll rather than by sheet and because Who Gives A Crap sell double rolls, it means that their products appear to be more expensive. Realistically, this company is actually the same or even cheaper than the toilet rolls sold in the supermarket. Who Gives A Crap even provides their consumers with the formula…
Total price / Number of rolls / Number of sheets per roll x 100
For example, 48 rolls of 100% Recycled TP for £40
£40 / 48 / 400 x 100 = 20per 100 sheets
In terms of comparing to supermarket isle rolls Cushelle is 32p and Andrex gently clean 100% recyclable roll is 26p. So, all in all, 20p for this product is entirely fair.
Looking at both the Who Gives A Crap 100% recycled paper toilet roll and the Bamboo alternative, I can say that they are both sustainable, but I believe the recycled paper is one step ahead (due to its biodegradability). However, inevitably it comes down to the comfort of the product and how good it is at what it does. In terms of softness, one would argue that bamboo is the way to go!
Overall, like its sister product, this bamboo toilet roll is a good quality, affordable (if you can afford the outlay), sustainable alternative to invest in.
This product is made entirely out of bamboo which is good from a sustainable perspective because is fast growing and therefore quickly renewable. Technically bamboo is a grass, which is good, because it requires no irrigation or fertilisation and only needs to be harvested once a year. For this product the bamboo is sourced from the remote areas of Sichuan Province in China. The location being in China is significant because this is where the product is manufactured, and therefore not importing raw materials from another country is greatly significant in terms of localisation and reduced carbon emissions. The farmers who grow it, do so on the outskirts of their family farms, in order to boost their income. Moreover, the pressing of their bamboo is done locally because each village has their own bamboo co-op and pulp factory. In terms of sustainability, this is significantly positive because in contrast to industrial agriculture, it does not require large areas of land to be cleared and therefore is less detrimental to the environment.
In addition to this, it is vegan, no animals are tested on and no dyes, perfumes or fragrances are used. Moreover, whitening agents are used in the production of toilet rolls. This tends to be a negative because the average toilet roll uses bleach to do this. Bleach is toxic and harmful to both the consumer and the environment which is why this product uses a less toxic better alternative … an elemental free chlorine. This type of chlorine is chemically bound to oxygen which means that it doesn't bioaccumulate. The impact of this is that living things will not absorb it, and therefore it’s better for the environment.
Each roll is packaged in its own colourful paper. This is Who Gives A Craps alternative to plastic packaging. The paper is not yet made of recyclable materials but is 100% compostable. Furthermore, there are no fillers inside the box (so only contains the toilet rolls) and the cardboard box is also 100% compostable.
The glue used is made from starch and water, non-toxic to humans or the environment. The whitening agent is an elemental free chlorine, which is not detrimental to the environment.
In terms of packaging, it is only possible to purchase this product in a box of 24 or 48. This is a positive because this number of toilet rolls should last the consumer a reasonably long time, especially considering each roll has double the number of layers than your average toilet roll. The aim here, is to reduce the volume of orders and reduce the strain on carbon emissions from shipping. The reduction of carbon emissions extremely important with the world needing to reach net zero as soon as possible!
Bamboo uses less energy, water and produces lower carbon emissions during the production process compared to your standard toilet paper. It also helps to protect trees because none are cut down in this process.
A possible caveat to this product is that it is made in China, whilst the company is based in Australia. However, Who Gives A Crap justify this choice clearly. Whilst there is a significant importance to investing in local produce, there can sometimes be some issues regarding the production line. As an Australian company they wanted to produce and sell in Australia, which is understandable, but there are only a small number of recycled tissue producers in Australia and none were open to a partnership with this company. Therefore, after a deep consideration Who Gives A Crap decided to outsource their production to China. One reason being that in China the supply chains are unique and do not rely on importing raw materials from other countries, meaning that this product could be created as sustainably as possible. Another reason is because of packaging the products. In China it is possible for all the rolls to be wrapped in 400 sheets and packed into boxes as large as 48. If this was to be done by a western supplier, there would be non-flexible and automated production lines that would only consider low sheet counts wrapped in plastic. Overall, China was the best option.
Furthermore, Who Gives A Crap has a close relationship with their partners in China. This is important because in order to be transparent there must be full disclosure in the production process. Who Gives A Crap therefore, has a fulltime team overseeing the production and working to maintain product quality. Each partner is also BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative) certified meaning that they score highly in terms of fair labour, no child labour, no discrimination and overall ethical business activities.
Importantly, Who Gives A Crap recognises that improvement is required in terms of transporting their produce from China. However, when it comes to toilet roll production it is actually the production process and raw material sourcing that increases the carbon footprint and does most of the damage. This is why this company has made an informed choice to target the production process and material selection process first. By using recycled fibres, for this product, because of its lower carbon, water and land use footprints Who Gives A Crap is taking the absolute most appropriate approach.