Sure, we love puppies and sunny days and walks on the beach, but our real love is toilet paper. Why, you might ask?
First of all, it’s funny. Lots of room for toilet jokes, which we love.
But really, we love toilet paper because for us, it’s our way of making a difference. We started Who Gives A Crap when we learnt that 2.4 billion people don’t have access to a toilet (now 2 billion – yay for progress!). That’s roughly 40% of the global population and means that around 289,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That’s almost 800 children per day, or one child every two minutes.
We thought that was pretty crap. So in July 2012, Simon, Jehan and Danny launched Who Gives A Crap with a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo. Simon sat on a toilet in our draughty warehouse and refused to move until we had raised enough pre-orders to start production. 50 hours and one cold bottom later, we’d raised over $50,000.
We delivered our first product in March 2013 and have been thrilled to keep growing ever since. Not just because our toilet paper is gracing bathrooms across the country but also because we donate 50% of our profits to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world.
Though we’re still growing, and now make more than just toilet paper, we always want to stay true to our roots: toilet humor and making the world a better place.
It Feels Good to Do Good
We donate 50% of profits to help build toilets because we believe access to a safe, dignified loo is a basic human right. Thanks to our amazing community (that’s you!), we’ve been able to donate over $8.3 million to help provide proper sanitation for the 2 billion people in need. Now that’s a lot of toilets!
Aside from being a great place to read, toilets are pretty magical – they keep waste out of waterways, prevent all sorts of nasty situations and provide a safe, dignified place for a person to do their business. But toilets are a part of a bigger system of health initiatives called WASH, which stands for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. Together, these three elements save lives, boost economies and strengthen communities. It’s all pretty amazing.
WASH: the four letters that save millions of lives
Sure, we’re the toilet paper company that helps build toilets, but our impact goes way beyond a loo.
Sanitation (a fancy way of saying ‘how we get rid of poo’) is an integral part of WASH, an acronym that stands for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. Each of these elements is essential in ensuring that communities protect themselves from disease and illness caused by contact with waste. When working together, clean water sources, toilets and proper hygiene can completely eliminate waterborne illness and disease. Pretty amazing for just a toilet and some good ol’ soap and water.
It’s not hard to imagine why clean water is important. Whether it be for drinking, cooking or washing, clean water is crucial for our everyday lives. But for many, it’s extremely difficult to come by. The burden usually falls on women and girls to travel upwards of 30 minutes to collect water for their families. This journey can be tough, and sometimes dangerous. That’s why we fund organisations finding innovative ways to bring water closer to home – like SHOFCO and their impressive aerial pipes.
We know it’s weird to think of a toilet as a tool, but a loo is actually one of the most useful tools to keep waterways clean. Without them, waste finds its way to local rivers and back into people’s food. That’s how diseases like cholera are spread across communities. Not to mention, using a toilet just feels better than going outside. Access to a dignified place to do your business is a basic human right – that’s why we’re so obsessed with toilets.
It’s no secret that washing your hands helps stop the spread of disease. Just 30 seconds with soap and water makes an enormous difference. And is pretty easy, right? Well, without clean water, soap or proper hygiene education, it’s not that simple. One of our partner organisations, Lwala, trains WASH advocates to teach their communities about proper hygiene and builds local handwashing stations (stocked with soap). It may seem simple, but it’s incredibly impactful work.
Life after WASH
The positive effects of WASH programs last for generations. When people are sick from waterborne illness, it’s really hard to do all of the normal stuff like go to work or school. When everyone is healthy, kids can finish their education and adults are more likely to have thriving businesses. In fact, every dollar invested in water access and sanitation yields an average of $6.80 in returns.
That’s why we’re so thrilled to be making our most recent $5.85 million AUD donation to our charity partners that provide WASH services all around the world. Especially now, this work is more important than ever – it’s vital in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Our partners are working to increase access to clean water and soap, increase hygiene awareness, improve school hand washing facilities to support the return of children to schools, and improve the availability of clean and hygienic toilets for medical professionals and patients.