A cheeky review of Who Gives a Crap toilet paper

Buying recycled toilet paper can be a trying business. Expensive, and often unpleasant to use, you can sometimes feel like you’ve been given a bum deal. Read our ‘Who Gives a Crap’ toilet paper review to find out whether this brand’s recycled product is about to clean up…

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3 brightly-wrapped rolls of toilet paper placed in the crook of 3 tree branches, with a leafy background. Top right is a yellow and blue wrapped roll, centre left is a purple and orange wrapped roll, and centre bottom is a green and blue one. All have white lettering on the front that states the brand. This image is to illustrate that this is a Who gives a crap toilet paper review

Because toilet paper doesn’t grow on trees…no, hang on…because toilet paper sort of grows on trees, we decided long ago that we wanted to use a more eco-friendly product here in the Vegan Mum household. And we’ve tried many over the years with varying – and sometimes disagreeable – results. So, we were delighted to find this brand recently because both their recycled and their bamboo loo rolls really are soft, strong, and pretty long too (you may need to have been born a while ago to appreciate that reference to a well-known toilet roll advert)! Anyway, let’s just say it has been a more positive experience, so if you’re looking for a loo roll that is kinder to the planet than most but still ‘does the business’, read on to find out how we got on with Who Gives a Crap toilet paper.

Editor’s rating: 4.4 / 5

Pros

  • Fully vegan
  • Soft and reasonably strong
  • Competitively priced
  • Eco-friendly

Cons

  • Whitened

Who is ‘Who Gives a Crap’?

Launched by 3 Australians in 2013, this B Corp accredited brand manufactures and delivers toilet papers, kitchen towels and tissues. Their aim seems to be to supply products that are eco-friendly, but also to do some good in the world, currently donating 50% of their profits to global initiatives to provide toilets in areas where access to good sanitation is poor.

The positives

This brand appears committed to ‘good causes’, including the environment: their products are vegan and cruelty-free; the toilet rolls – recycled and bamboo – are, erm…fit for purpose; and as eco-friendly toilet papers go, they are competitively priced (although not cheap).

Fully vegan

It’s reassuring to know that as well as the actual product itself, this brand uses only vegan materials in all of its packaging too, including printing inks and glues.

On first sight, the bright wrappers encasing these ‘Who gives a Crap’ toilet rolls transported me back to my early days of veganism when I discovered (to my ignorant horror) that whilst a product might be vegan, its packaging may not be. At the time, I was thoroughly disappointed in myself for never having given a second thought to printing inks, glues holding cardboard boxes together, and various other peripherals which can often contain animal products. Since that time, I’ve learnt so much more (and have forgiven myself for my earlier thoughtlessness!)

Thankfully though, that’s not a problem here. Who said veganism is dull?!


Soft and reasonably strong

Both of this brand’s toilet papers – the bamboo and the recycled versions – are very soft and comfortable to use. Now you might say that as someone who went to school at a time when toilet rolls could double up as tracing paper (not after it had been used, clearly) anything would feel soft. And that may be true, but having tried out quite a few products in recent years, Who Gives a Crap toilet roll compares very favourably with other brands which can feel quite scratchy, frankly; a bit like the paper in my old school rough books (not that I ever used my rough books to wipe…well, let’s move on).

Anyway, are these toilet rolls strong? Yes, although the bamboo version is stronger than the recycled in my opinion. That said, because we have a septic tank at our house (we’re still a bit disconnected from the modern world here in East Anglia) we use a product called Wype instead of wet wipes, a gel you apply to your piece of toilet roll to clean things up a bit, and it doesn’t cause the recycled paper to split at those moments when you least want it to, so it’s pretty robust. It’s just that the bamboo product feels more reassuring somehow.


Competitively priced

OK, so this is ‘competitively priced’, not ‘cheap’. Compared to toilet rolls of similar quality, it falls somewhere between Cheeky Panda and Naked Sprout in terms of cost. In the table below, I have used current advertised prices from their respective websites to illustrate the cost differences for you.

Obviously, each brand will offer its own savings and special offers, so for the purposes of this comparison, the same assumptions have been made:

  • one-off purchase
  • bamboo product
  • 24 roll box
BrandPriceTotal no. of sheetsCost per 100 sheets
Naked Sprout£23.507,68031p
Who Gives a Crap£308,88034p
Cheeky Panda£21.994,80046p

However, it’s worth noting that in recent tests of 5 bamboo toilet papers carried out by the Consumer Association, only Who Gives a Crap and Cheeky Panda were shown to actually be made of 100% bamboo, and Naked Sprout came in at 4%, although they do claim it is still eco-friendly. But that’s quite a difference, and with the remaining content of Naked Sprout’s products not being easily identifiable, it could be the reason for the price difference.

Something else to think about – you can buy cheaper recycled toilet paper in most supermarkets. However, in my experience, the quality has been variable and I wouldn’t buy them again, so a false economy from my perspective. Not only that, it is much harder to trace the supply chain back to see how sustainable each stage of the manufacturing and distribution process is. To coin an old phrase, “you pays your money, you takes your choice”.


Eco-friendly

Whilst a lot of their manufacturing takes place in China (which has both positive and negative implications), they do seem to be investigating more local opportunities, and UK distributed products like kitchen roll and tissues now seem to be made here in the UK.

I guess these are difficult decisions for a global brand that wants to minimise cost (which has a direct link to the end consumer) and to achieve synergies in their manufacturing processes. If they were to open up multiple production sites, they may lose some of those savings, and it may not be the greenest option anyway. I don’t claim to know the answer because it would require complex calculations completely beyond my brain capacity unfortunately!

So sometimes, you just have to make an educated guess and hope that in this time of climate emergency, a brand isn’t overly greenwashing their eco-credentials…consequently, I believe this brand to be greener than many in similar sectors.

All that aside, Who Gives a Crap advise that their recycled toilet paper is marginally more eco-friendly than their bamboo product. This is certainly backed up by the World Wide Fund for Nature who assert that whilst sustainably-grown bamboo products are better than using virgin trees, recycled paper is normally even more eco-friendly than bamboo. And if it’s good enough for the WWF, it’s good enough for me!


The negatives

It is often the case that if you want to buy products that are kinder to the environment, you are going to pay more for it, so cost is a bit of a negative. It’s also true that Who Gives a Crap toilet paper is largely manufactured in China, and distributed from there too. I have covered off both these topics previously, so other than that, the other concern I have is that their products are still whitened. Let’s take a look at that in more detail:

Whitened

Whilst they don’t use chlorine-based agents to whiten their products, hydrogen peroxide is used instead. This is probably a gentler way to bleach, but it’s still bleaching and I’m not really sure why they do it. The explanation on their website is that customers expect white toilet paper, and so they try to appeal to as many people as possible. Their last comment on this that I can see is that they are still looking at alternatives, but that was back in October ’22 so I have emailed them for an update and will review this article when I get a reply.


My experience of using Who Gives a Crap toilet paper

Well, here’s an experience I never thought I’d write about, although don’t worry, I don’t give you a running commentary on how we tested it! Anyway, here goes…

I like to think of myself as someone who gives a lot of thought to animals and the environment when I make purchases, so I have tried a number of different recycled and environmentally-friendlier paper products over the years. But my early experience of buying recycled toilet paper was consistently disappointing and sometimes, downright disagreeable. With rough paper and a lack of ‘robustness’ in the, erm, wiping capability of many products, using it was generally far from being a pleasant experience.

All that has changed, however, with the likes of Who Gives a Crap toilet paper and in spite of the cost, I’m a bit of a fan. I bought the bamboo product originally, avoiding the recycled ones because of my previous experience with supermarket branded products, and was impressed because it really is soft and strong – honestly, it stands up to even the most vigorous wiping! It’s also perfect with proprietary cleansing gels like Wype too and doesn’t tear; we have a septic tank and can’t use wipes because they would clog it up (although let’s face it, no-one should really be using wipes anyway), so this is important.

Then, Who Gives a Crap asked me if I’d like to sample their recycled toilet paper and put it to the test here in the Vegan Mum household, and I’m really glad I did because otherwise I may never have tried it. To be fair, it’s not quite as strong as the bamboo but it is very soft, and does still withstand a fair amount of ‘friction’ – if you’ve ever seen your young children or grandchildren attempting to wipe their bottoms, you’ll know what I mean!

I also love the fact that they state this is a totally vegan product, from the packaging to the inks they use on the brightly-coloured individual wrappers, and I’m going to admit to something here: at the risk of sounding like a complete cheapskate, I actually re-use the wrappers to parcel up birthday presents. There, I’ve said it now. Come on, someone gets a present, they just tear off the wrapping paper without giving it a second thought, then it goes in the bin. What a waste! Not any more, not here…

This brand has also earned a bit of kudos by being one of only 2 bamboo toilet paper products trialled by Which that actually consisted of 100% bamboo. It’s amazing how a few other brands have made obscure references to what their products are made of.

So, Who Gives a Crap toilet paper is a winner in my book. Yes, it has some downsides but in the scheme of things, I believe it’s a pretty good choice because it effectively performs a function that so many of us have to do, whilst minimising harm to animals, and to the planet.

And finally, I also found out that the tracing paper which passed for loo roll at school back in the day is quite the search topic online. Who knew? We must have been seriously traumatised by it. But that’s another story, except that it does mean some of us really, really appreciate soft loo roll. And as one of them, I’m rather pleased I’ve found this brand!

FAQs

How did Victorians wipe their bottoms?

I always like to do a bit of digging around on the internet when I write an article and in my research for this review, one of the first things I came across was an amusing potted history about toilet paper in the Wellcome Trust article ‘How Brits went soft on toilet paper‘ (I’m going to love my Google search results for the next few weeks)! Apparently, us Brits were highly suspicious of anything that might be pleasant to use, so I thought I’d share that with you


What chemicals are in recycled toilet paper?

The bunch of chemicals causing the most concern at the moment are PFAS – a group of synthetic chemicals that we are exposed to in a multitude of products and in the environment. You can read more about them in the US government’s National Institute of Environmental Health Studies article here. Who Gives a Crap do not add any of these chemicals into their products, although are clear that there may be traces of them simply because they are present everywhere, even in water that may be used for manufacturing processes. They are working to eliminate them completely but it’s important to note that any traces are well below ‘legal’ limits, and far lower than many products which actively add these chemicals. Read Who Gives a Crap’s statement here.

Penny Barkas


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