Climate-consciousness and a bent toward sustainability are becoming more commonplace in the venture capital ecosystem, from startups that focus on clean meat production and insect-based foods to sustainable fashion and carbon capture and removal. Paper products—including toilet paper—are in the mix, too, with several brands championing more eco-friendly offerings. With roughly 18 million acres of forest lost globally each year and an estimated 27,000 hardwood trees harvested daily for our TP needs, these four startups are working to usher in a new forward-thinking approach to toilet tissue:
1. Who Gives A Crap
This Australian startup’s product line—including sustainable toilet paper, paper towels and facial tissues—hit the virtual shelves in 2013 following a successful crowdfunding campaign. Their sustainable goods are made with forest-friendly bamboo, recycled paper and/or sugarcane, and 50% of the company’s profits help build toilets and improve sanitation in developing countries. Who Gives A Crap’s premium bamboo toilet paper, their “softest loo roll ever,” is made without dyes, scents or inks.
The startup raised $360,000 in debt financing in 2014 to be used for the purchase of additional inventory, increasing production volumes and stock on-hand to meet demand.
- Featured product: Premium bamboo toilet paper
- Headquarters: Melbourne, Victoria, AU
- Founded: 2010
- Notable investors: Cubit Family Foundation, Impact Investment Group, Village Capital
Founders Lisa Frame and Isidro Hurtado were chatting over margaritas when the conversation turned to crap—specifically, the thousands of hardwood trees that are harvested every day in the US to create toilet paper. Bippy steers consumers away from traditional TP with their soft, biodegradable, fragrance-free toilet tissue made with bamboo fibers. Why bamboo? Because it’s a triple threat of environmental sustainability, the duo says—it creates more oxygen, uses more carbon and doesn’t have to be replanted.
Bippy joined Backstage Capital’s Accelerator program as a part of its first cohort in 2019 and received $100,000 in funding.
- Featured product: Bippy bamboo toilet paper
- Headquarters: Los Angeles, California, US
- Founded: 2019
- Notable investors: Backstage Capital
3. The Cheeky Panda
Founders Chris Forbes and Julie Chen chose bamboo for their sustainable line of toilet paper, paper towels, tissues and wet and dry wipes because it grows up to 30 times faster than trees. In addition to being vegan-registered and carbon-balanced, The Cheeky Panda is the UK’s first tissue company to become a Certified B Corporation.
After a successful crowdfunding campaign and several rounds of angel funding, The Cheeky Panda raised £1 million in venture funding from Northern & Shell Ventures in 2018. In 2020, they raised an undisclosed amount from Embryo Ventures.
- Featured product: Plastic-free family bundle with toilet tissue, facial tissue and paper towels
- Headquarters: Brentwood, England, UK
- Founded: 2016
- Notable investors: Northern & Shell Ventures, Seedrs, SmartAngels, Embryo Ventures
Reel is on a mission to help the planet, our fellow humans and provide sustainable bamboo paper products—and that’s just what they’re doing. Since 2016, Reel has donated 21,000+ single-use biodegradable toilets to individuals in need. Reel’s TP is made with bamboo because it grows quickly, up to nearly three feet in 24 hours, and because it uses 30% less water than hardwood trees.
Most recently, Reel raised early-stage VC funding in the form of convertible debt from Bluestein & Associates, Litani Ventures and others.Featured product: 100% bamboo toilet paper
Headquarters: Santa Monica, California, US
Notable investors: Bluestein & Associates, Litani Ventures, Angeles Investors, Atlas Capital Ventures
5. Grove Collaborative
Grove Collaborative brings health, sustainable home essentials to its customers’ doorsteps. Launched in April 2021, Seedling by Grove is the company’s line of strong, tree-free paper—including toilet paper, paper towels and tissues. The Seedling’s TP is 100% bamboo, three-ply and packaged in recycled and recyclable paper. Every Seedling order helps replant trees across the US through Grove Collaborative’s partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation.
In December 2020, the startup raised $125 million of Series E funding from NextNew Ventures, Glynn Capital, Sculptor Capital Management and others. Glove Collaborative is using that capital to expand into new categories, launch beauty brands and work toward the goal of being completely plastic-free by 2025.
- Featured product: Tree-Free 3-Ply Toilet Paper – Limited Edition – Katie Rodgers x Seedling
- Headquarters: San Francisco, California, US
- Founded: 2012
- Notable investors: NextNew Ventures, Glynn Capital, Sculptor Capital Management
Best known for its popular bidet toilet seat attachment, TUSHY also offers premium bamboo toilet paper as a one-off purchase or monthly subscription.
The startup’s website says that bamboo products are not only soft and absorbent, but also a sustainable resource. Bamboo absorbs 35% more CO2 per hectare than equivalent plants and can grow up to nearly 39 inches in a single day. In addition to helping curb deforestation, TUSHY notes that one roll of its bamboo TP takes .59 gallons of water to produce—compared to 37 gallons for a roll of conventional TP.
TUSHY raised $2.6 million in venture funding in September 2019 from Unorthodox Ventures and Magic Hour.