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article imageDisruption has finally come to the toilet paper market

By Karen Graham     Jul 17, 2019 in Business
In February 2019, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued a report titled “The Issue With Tissue." The whole point was to give leading brands of toilet paper a sustainability grade and make people aware it does come from trees - lots of tree
Vox points out something most of us don't think about - toilet paper (TP) has been around, in the same paper on a cardboard roll format for ages. And really, other than adding floral scents to the roll, it's basically unchanged.
On an episode of Seinfeld, George Costanza uses this little fact as a conversation starter: “It’s just paper on a cardboard roll,” he says. “And in 10,000 years, it will still be exactly the same. Because really, what else can they do?”
Well, toilet paper does have other uses, like being a plaything for the cat, or decorating houses on Halloween, or even as an emergency piece of paper when one has to write a quick note. But putting all this aside, toilet paper is still the same as it was years ago.
So, we have George saying TP is the same old boring paper on a roll, while there is a whole other group of consumers who are turning up their collective noses at buying "recycled brands," igniting a demand for "virgin" toilet paper.
toilet paper
toilet paper
Photo by emdot
Actually, the issue with tissue does center around environmental concerns over deforestation and destruction of animal habitats. The NRDC wants to make consumers aware of the fact their TP does come from mature trees, cut down in Canadian forests.
According to data published by the World Bank, the world has lost the equivalent of 1,000 football fields of forests per hour for the last 25 years, according to official figures.
Charmin, Quilted Northern, and Kirkland Signature all scored an F in the NRDC's sustainability ratings, and Kimberly-Clark, one of the biggest suppliers of toilet tissue worldwide, decreased the amount of recycled fiber in its TP from 30 percent in 2011 to 23.5 percent in 2017.
A woman buys popular item  toilet paper imprinted with pictures of Russian President Vladimir Putin ...
A woman buys popular item, toilet paper imprinted with pictures of Russian President Vladimir Putin, sold by a street vendor in the center of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev on November 7, 2014
Sergei Supinsky, AFP/File
The 2019 toilet paper revolution
For the last five years or so, startups — searching for anything and everything to innovate upon — decided toilet paper was ripe for change. All kinds of companies have popped up, with names like Who Gives a Crap, Tushy, Cheeky Monkey and No. 2.
These new TP companies are selling their product the same way as millennial-focused makeup, reusable straws and foam mattresses — through web-based direct-to-consumer marketing.
Who Gives a Crap, claims they love puppies and sunny days and walks on the beach, but their real love is toilet paper. Not only are all of their products made without trees, but no inks, dyes or scents are used. The company delivered its first product in 2013, and every year since has donated 50 percent of its profits to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world.
The designs on the packaging are fantastic.
The designs on the packaging are fantastic.
Who Gives a Crap
Cheeky Monkey is the only 100 percent tree-free TP available in New Zealand.
The plant fibers used to make this TP, sugarcane, and bamboo, produce a much softer product than recycled paper and many virgin wood fiber papers.
The bamboo and sugar cane is sourced in Asia. Cheeky Monkey claims its products are a sustainable alternative to conventional paper made from trees. Sugarcane and bamboo are grasses, not hardwoods. They both grow very quickly, and after harvest, grow back just as quickly. No replanting is necessary.
Cheeky Monkey TP
Cheeky Monkey TP
Cheeky Monkey
Toilet Paper is an inferior tool
Toilet paper is a technology that is grounded in our culture. We often credit the Ancient Romans with introducing the world to the toilet connected to an underground sewage system. Yet despite all their accomplishments, some may wonder what they used to clean themselves when they had finished using the toilet - seeing as they had no rolls of toilet paper.
In Rome, way back then, a public "butt brush" or tersorium, an ingenious device consisting of a piece of natural sponge connected to a stick, was used. After being used to wipe one's nether-regions, the tensorium was rinsed in whatever was available (running water and/or a bucket of vinegar or saltwater), and leave it for the next person to use.
Jason Ojalvo, the CEO of Tushy. thinks we haven't come that far from those ancient butt brushes. He says toilet paper itself is an inferior tool for the task of wiping. “Would you clean your dishes with a piece of dry paper? Of course not," he concludes. Tushy, which started out selling bidets, began selling bamboo toilet paper in early 2018.
Deforestation worsens climate change by releasing carbon stored in trees into the atmosphere  and pr...
Deforestation worsens climate change by releasing carbon stored in trees into the atmosphere, and preventing forests, or “carbon sinks,” from absorbing greenhouse gases for decades at a time.
U.S. Forestry Service
The whole point of this toilet paper revolution we are going through is to acknowledge that there is a better way to live sustainably and be environmentally conscious. In place of cutting down any more trees, we now have a choice of using three types of Toilet paper - 100 percent bamboo, as Tushy sells, toilet paper made from a mix of bamboo and sugar cane fibers, or TP made from 100 percent recycled paper, like Who Gives a Crap sells.
Recycled paper is by far the best option from an environmental standpoint, requiring much less energy especially in transportation needs. And things are still disruptive from a marketing perspective, with copycats and excess consumerism running rampant - so as Vox says, the toilet paper industry is messy.
More about Toilet paper, startups, disruptive, Environment, Sustainable
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