Another green idea making a difference: Toilet paper, anyone?


Over the summer, a Merton Center member and friend of mine, gave me a gift of toilet paper. Now, when was the last time someone made such a gift to you! You may have guessed that this was no usual roll of toilet paper. It was made by a company called “Who Gives a Crap.” I did a little research and would like to share what I learned with you, our New People readers.

Simon Griffiths is the Co-Founder & CEO of Who Gives A Crap. He reports that he was looking for a new concept for a scalable social business with a product that everyone could buy. He spent a lot of time in Asia and Eastern and Southern Africa, looking at different developmental organizations to gain an understanding of what “good development” looks like. He observed that many organizations were trying to have as much impact as possible, but they spent roughly 30% of their time competing for limited pools of funds. He wanted to create a new channel to expand the funding pool and help accelerate development. As he tells it, “Why don’t we sell toilet paper, use half of the profits to build toilets and call it ‘Who Gives A Crap?’” I called three friends, told them about the idea and they all said I had to do it. Hence ‘Who Gives A Crap’ was born!” Now his team is dispersed throughout the US, Australia and the UK, with three city “hubs,” Los Angeles, Melbourne and Manila.

Who Gives a Crap started after Simon learned that 2.3 billion people across the world don’t have access to a toilet. That’s roughly 40% of the global population and means that around 289,000 children under five die every year from diarrheal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That’s almost 800 children per day, or one child every two minutes. Toilets are proven to be a great solution—they provide dignity, health and an improved quality of life. And in case that wasn’t enough, it’s been shown that a dollar invested in sanitation yields $5.50 in increased economic prosperity. Toilets are really important.

In July 2012, Simon and his friends launched Who Gives A Crap with a crowd funding campaign. Simon sat on a toilet in their draughty warehouse and refused to move until they had raised enough pre-orders to start production. Fifty hours later, and with one cold “behind,” they had raised over $50,000. Their first product was distributed in March 2013 and they have been growing ever since. Not only because it is a good product, but also because they donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world.

They were determined to prove that toilet paper is about more than just wiping bums. They make their products with environmentally friendly materials, as well as donating half their profits for toilets for those in need.

They have partners in non-profit organizations who work to improve access to hygiene, water and basic sanitation in developing countries, donating to Water Aid in Australia, Sanergy, Shining Hope For Communities and Lwala Community Alliance — incredible organizations with deep experience and skill in implementing high impact sanitation projects throughout the developing world. To date they have donated $1.2 million, which is enough to help tens of thousands of people in need, while saving lots of trees, water and energy.

While most toilet paper is still made with virgin trees, Who Gives a Crap makes all their products without trees, with 100% recycled materials. No inks, dyes or scents are used. It is soft and strong (3 ply). They believe “Trees should be for hugging, not wiping!”

If you are interested in trying out this toilet paper, go to http://www.whogivesacrap. org and place your order. The people at Who Gives a Crap inform us, “More people in the world have mobile phones than toilets. Think about that the next time you’re texting in the bathroom!”

Joyce Rothermel is a member of the Editorial Collective and the Board of the Thomas Merton Center.

 (TMC newspaper VOL. 48 No.8 October 2018. All rights reserved)





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