Dr. Elissa Foster – Head of Sustainability at Who Gives a Crap.
Dr. Elissa Foster is Head of Sustainability at Who Gives a Crap. She is responsible for embedding sustainable thinking into Who Gives a Crap’s products and operations. Elissa has been working for Who Gives a Crap since May 2022. Prior to her role at Who Gives a Crap Elissa was Head of Product Environmental Impact at Patagonia. She worked on environmental projects for Patagonia for 17 years. Elissa served on NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary System Business Advisory Council for 6 years. Elissa has a BS degree in Zoology from UC Santa Barbara, Master’s degree in Environmental Science and Management from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management (UCSB), and a Doctorate of Environmental Science and Engineering and Leader in Sustainability Certificate from UCLA. She lives in Ventura, CA with her family.
To provide insights about how to gift purposefully and utilise eco-conscious essentials this Christmas, Tim Langdon, publisher of Eco Voice, had the pleasure of facilitating a Q & A with Dr. Elissa Foster, Head of Sustainability at Who Gives a Crap.
Q1. With Christmas almost upon us, what is Who Gives a Crap focused on in terms of educating consumers about sustainable choices?
At Who Gives A Crap, we are all about uncrapping the world. This festive season, we’re encouraging people to shift their mindset and make more sustainable choices when gifting and entertaining to help reduce overconsumption. It feels good to do good, and it can be fun too!
With this in mind, we encourage people to consider reusable and purposeful gifts to help reduce waste this festive season. A top tip we keep coming back to each year is reusing our toilet paper wrappers as wrapping paper.
Q2. What are your tips for sustainable swaps this Christmas?
We suggest making simple eco-conscious selections when purchasing your hosting essentials to help keep the planet peachy. You will likely need to stock up on household items, such as toilet paper and cleaning products. Buying eco-friendly products, like Who Gives A Crap’s 100% recycled toilet paper will surprise and delight your guests – it’s also a great conversation starter and your bum will love you for it!
Gifting purposefully is a great way to share the joy this Christmas, by choosing gifts that your loved ones may need, utilise regularly, or have a long shelf life. Gifts such as plants, food, or experiences are a wonderful option and can help reduce waste during the festive season.
Another thoughtful gifting opportunity is to support communities that have been impacted by a natural disaster. You could purchase from local artists and businesses, or donate to organisations helping these communities.
Q3.Why is gifting purposefully and utilising eco-conscious essentials important during the Christmas period?
Choosing purposeful and eco-conscious gifts during Christmas is essential to help tackle overconsumption. It also helps promote sustainable habits, which can lead to waste reduction. We often don’t think twice about what our household essentials are made of, but these are easy opportunities to choose eco-friendly products and materials. Using reusable plates and cutlery for festive gatherings, as well as opting for sustainable toilet paper, are great starting points.
Q4. What are some examples of gifts that Who Gives a Crap suggests are worth considering this year?
- The Stack-A-Tree – an eco-friendly christmas tree or a fun way to decorate the bathroom.
- Dream Cloths – one part sponge, one part cloth, these are a reusable and washable alternative to paper towel. With a colourful and quirky design, the Dream Cloths can spruce any kitchen!
- A Who Gives A Crap subscription – toilet paper is a need and a very practical gift to consider. With 100% recycled toilet paper and bamboo options, there is an option to suit everyone’s preference.
Q5. Is the industry that you are involved in moving towards promoting more environmentally focused consumption?
Over the past decade, there’s been a rise in purpose driven businesses, with consumers seeking companies that align with their values and have a positive impact on the world.
Due to this demand, we have noticed an increase in brands shifting to using environmentally friendly materials and reducing their use of plastic packaging, with brands like Who Gives A Crap offering eco-friendly toilet paper, paper towels and tissues.
The toilet paper industry relies primarily on virgin tree fibre to make regular toilet paper. This type of production contributes to deforestation across the globe, with over one million trees being cut down everyday for the world’s toilet paper usage.
We are also seeing companies enhancing sustainability practices in their supply chains, and working towards improving social and environmental practices in manufacturing. But, there’s definitely more good needed to be done by brands to help people and the planet.
Q6. How can Who Gives a Crap get more industry players involved in educating consumers to reduce waste, particularly during the Christmas period?
We hope by sharing our knowledge within the industry and with customers and by partnering with amazing impact-lead organisations, that we can promote a more sustainable approach to manufacturing and consuming goods.
Q7. How can publications, such as Eco Voice, play their part in promoting sustainability in your business sector?
Who Gives A Crap exists to help bring positive change; 50% of our profits are used to help build toilets and improve sanitation all over the world. We have impact partners, who are experts in providing proper sanitation for billions of people in need. This takes place all year round, not just at Christmas.
We hope by sharing our knowledge within the industry and our customers and partnering with amazing impact-lead organisations, that we can help provide more and more people with access to toilets and clean water.
Publications, such as Eco Voice can actively support this effort by giving more attention to the need for additional global funding towards Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) initiatives. Collectively we can help uncrap the world!
First published in 2003, Eco Voice is your go-to publication for sustainability news in Australia. Eco Voice prides itself as an independent news platform with a clear focus on sustainability, with articles coming from a diverse range of contributors – all levels of government, corporations, not-for-profits, community groups, small to medium sized businesses, universities, research organisations, together with input from international sources. Eco Voice values community, conservation and commerce. Eco Voice is a media partner of the prestigious Australian Banksia Sustainability Awards – The Peak Sustainability Awards.
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 (see the video here!)
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.
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