What do most of us get to do every single day without a second thought ? Go to a clean, working toilet... take that a step further - we also get to wipe our bottoms with clean toilet paper ! But there are billions of people in the world who don't have access to a toilet, let alone toilet paper. Enter Australian-based social enterprise Who Gives A Crap. One of my favourite discoveries of last year. Via a subscription (I get toilet paper delivered straight to my doorstep bi-monthly) Who Gives A Crap delivers recycled toilet paper to your door with 50% of profits going to help build toilets in the developing world.... read how wiping your bum can actually help people. Thanks Simon for being such a welcoming and inspiring business person.
Tell us why you started who gives a crap
We started Who Gives A Crap because we found out that 2.5 billion people, which is about 40% of the entire world, don't have access to a toilet. For some people that might not seem like a big deal, but it results in diarrhoea-related diseases that fill half the hospital beds in sub-Saharan Africa and kills 2000 children under the age of 5 every day. One of the reasons why the sanitation problem is so huge is simply because people don't like talking about toilets. We saw Who Gives A Crap as a way to make a difference by using the profits from the sale our our toilet paper to provide access to toilets and sanitation in the developing world as well as raising awareness about a difficult topic. We're literally saving the world from the bottom up.
Where and how is it made?
We're an Australian owned company, but our primary mission is to improve the lives of people in the developing world, so we choose to create jobs for relatively poor individuals by engaging in ethical production in the developing world. Our main production is currently in China, so we've spent a lot of time there working closely with our production facility and and overseeing production to make sure everything operates in a manner that we're happy with.
The product it's self is made from 100% recycled post-consumer-waste that's sourced from schools that are local to our production facility. We essentially take used exercise books and work sheets and turn them into toilet paper.
Is there a secret to why its the best feeling recycled toilet paper we’ve ever felt?
Haha that's the sort of feedback we love! There is certainly some stigma attached to recycled toilet paper, so we worked really hard to prioritise softness. That's why our product is three ply, and also why we removed as many of the nasties as possible and pulp everything at super high temperatures which leaves the tissue feeling super soft.
Can you also tell us a bit more about where 50% of the money goes to?
We use half of our profits to build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world. The first donation we made was to build a toilet block in a school in the Eastern Highlands Region of PNG. We worked out that our donation meant that every roll sold to date was going to provide someone with access to a toilet for one week, which is a pretty cool outcome!
Have you visited these places yourself?
I've spent a bunch of time in the developing world, but never made it to PNG - I can't wait to get over there! To date we've really been focussed on getting the product and our service right because we wouldn't be able to build toilets if no one liked what we had to offer. Going in country and documenting where the money ends up is the next part of the journey - we can't wait!
You also own a bar called Shebeen – tell us the story behind that?
Shebeen is Australia's only non-profit cafe and bar. We sell exotic beers and wines from the developing world. The profit from each sale is sent back to a development product in that drink's country of origin - so customer choice at the bar determines where our money ends up. We've been open for just over one year and have proven that our business model works.
What were you doing before starting Who Gives A Crap and Shebeen – did you always have an interest in social conscience enterprise?
Both took a few years to piece together, but before that I was briefly in the corporate world, then in the traditional NGO sector, and then ended up somewhere in the middle.
You'll have to wait and see!