AUSTIN (KXAN) — It is responsible for cutting down one million acres of trees every year according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, and you have some in your home right now: toilet paper.
KXAN sat down with the founders of a company who set out to find a better way to manufacture toilet paper.
After working in tech, Betterway cofounders Christian Cox and Eugenia Alliegro wanted to start a company that would make a difference for the environment.
“We didn’t want to take just a random widget and sell it,” Cox said. “We wanted to do something we could get behind.”
And they launched their sustainable toilet paper company at just the right time.
“In January of 2020, so right before the pandemic,” Alliegro said.
“March 2020 came around and everyone started going crazy, and toilet paper was this item that everyone thought the world was running out of,” Cox said.
As demand surged, popular brands of toilet paper went out of stock.
“[Consumers] weren’t maybe aware of the issue or looking for a sustainable option, but it was the only option there,” Alliegro said.
Traditional toilet paper typically comes from cutting down old-growth trees in the Canadian boreal forest according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. The boreal forest contains one-third of Earth’s trees and is crucial for both creating the oxygen we breathe and absorbing planet-warming carbon dioxide.
“It’s a product that you use for just a few seconds, but the impact is chopping down trees that have taken hundreds of years to grow,” Alliegro said.
Betterway toilet paper is made of bamboo fibers instead.
“Some bamboo species grow like, three feet overnight,” Alliegro said.
Faster growth makes for a more renewable resource, and a more sustainable product.
And while it may not be quite as plush as ultra-soft name-brand toilet paper, Betterway says the processes to develop toilet paper that soft are chemical-intensive.
“I find the level of softness of bamboo toilet paper to be completely acceptable,” Cox said.
“From a conscious relationship to our environment perspective, is there a point where it’s soft enough but also good for the environment?” Alliegro said.
For some perspective, Betterway toilet paper is about twice as expensive as the traditional kind, with twelve rolls setting you back roughly $30. The company also sells bamboo-made paper towels, and the team plans to expand their brand by identifying more everyday items they can replace with more sustainable options.
“You can learn about small things that have really big impact if it’s the things that you’re using in your everyday life,” Alliegro said.