Toilet trouble – how to crap responsibly

Who Gives A Crap Toilet Paper
Our sustainable toilet roll frontrunner

Two years ago I was leaving a job and was given a seemly strange leaving gift. A brightly wrapped toilet roll. ‘Grace, you’ll love this, they are one of the first companies to produce plastic free toilet roll, and they give to charity too!’. By then my team understood how much I cared about the environment and was always looking out for tips and tricks to share with me. That toilet roll was the start of something beautiful for me and my bum.

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The toilet roll was made my Who Gives A Crap (WGAC), now a more familiar brand than they were two years ago, who are dedicated to producing 100% recycled loo rolls in 100% plastic free packaging while donating 50% of their profits to building toilets in the developing world. In my opinion this is one of the best eco organisations out there; they are really fun, environmentally conscious and behind it sits a really great product. And, they are great value. Eco products can come with a hefty price tag, but WGAC have somehow managed to stay competitive.

I have been buying Sainsbury’s Recycled Toilet Tissues since they had first been introduced to my local store and I still rate this product as it’s produced and packaged in the UK. But, it is provided by a huge organisation which, although moving towards more sustainable decisions, are by no means the supermarket leader in this field.

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The pulp mix comes from The Forest Stewardship Council ® (FSC) which was founded to improve forestry management and ensuring sustainable forestry. It is widely acknowledged to be the most credible forest certification scheme and Sainsbury’s use two of its products; FSC Recycled (wood that is pre- or post-consumer waste) and FSC Mix (the one most frequently used to produce toilet paper. A mix of FSC virgin wood, recycled, and virgin wood from ‘controlled sources’ – there are a list of five rules that have to be met).

The downside to using Sainsbury’s loo roll is that it comes wrapped in plastic and although there is a nod to sustainability as the LDPE printed Film can be recycled it isn’t widely recycled by local councils. They come in packs of nine and each time I would use the bag as a bin liner to avoid it going straight into land fill.

My thoughts went back to how I can wipe more responsibly and WGAC had been promoted all over my feed. I remembered enjoying my first roll back in 2017 and had heard good things since so I went online to buy some.

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Who Gives A Crap is an Australian company that make their rolls from 100% recycled wood from China (including books and office paper) and bamboo fibres from China (they sell two types of roll). Their website states 1 in 3 people don’t have access to any kind of toilet and around 289,000 children under five die every year (one every two minutes) from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation.

They were so passionate about making a change their co-founder Simon sat on a toilet in their cold warehouse and refused to move until they had raised enough pre-orders to start production. 50 hours later they had raised over $50,000 AUD (see Simon on the toilet here). To date WGAC have donated over $1.8m Aussie dollars (over £1,000,000) to their charity partners that include Watershed, Shofco, WaterAid, Sanergy and Lwala and saved a hug amount of a lot of trees being destroyed as well as water and energy being used. 

WGAC are in fact cheaper than most recycled toilet roll (see below), it can be bought in bulk and you can set up a subscription service for delivery every few months for home delivery. I purchase 48 rolls for £36 which should last a house of two between 2-3 months. I would have to buy over five of the Sainsbury’s 9 roll plastic wrapped packages and had multiple trips to the supermarket.

There is an obvious elephant in the room… they have to get their rolls from Australia to my bum in the UK. Is it worth just buying plastic wrapped UK loo roll? They have done a lot of research into their impact and sustainability which you can read about here. But essentially, they have put in time and effort to ensure they are doing the best they can to help as many people as possible with the lowest environmental impact. And they have said as they grow their customer base in both Europe and North America, there will be lots of more opportunities to reassess how they can better deliver orders around the world. As Alan Sugar always tells us… supply and demand… I think we need to invest into smaller, good willed, honest companies and open up their opportunities to give to the needy and save the environment than to stay with the bigger players.

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Here is a quick overview of my pros and cons for WGAC loo rolls.

Pros

  • 100% plastic free packaging
  • 100% recycled – bamboo fibres and recycled wood
  • 50% profits go to charity (over £1m donated since 2012)
  • No inks, dyes or scents
  • Biodegradable
  • Double length rolls
  • 13.5p per 100 sheets (vs 17p per 100 sheets for Sainsbury’s)
  • Bespoke home delivery subscription service
  • Also sell tissues and kitchen roll
  • Environmentally aware
  • Young, fun company with good marketing

Cons

  • Made in China, shipped via sea freight directly to nearest warehouse location in Europe
  • Home delivery emissions
  • Have to order online – risk of end-of-roll emergency and can’t pick up with other items in one bulk shop

In my bum’s opinion WGAC are my new favourite loo roll brand, check them out and see if they can make your booty happy too! While stocks last click here to start your free trial.

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Grace works for a School Improvement Partnership and is our resident ocean lover. Having worked as a scuba instructor in Indonesia she has picked up her fair share of ocean plastic. Her favourite eco product is Oliva Olive Oil Soap.

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