Today, Friday, April 29, 2022, is the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day.
The annual holiday is meant to raise awareness for the importance of trees and to encourage people to help the environment by planting them where possible.
The first Arbor Day took place on April 10, 1872, at the behest of J. Sterling Morton, the secretary of the Nebraska Territory. Counties and individuals in the territory were invited to compete to see who could plant the most trees in one day, with prizes offered to the winners.
The holiday has since spread around the country and is traditionally celebrated on the last Friday in April. One of the more interesting parts about the holiday, though, is the way that many use it to raise awareness for different companies and organizations that are trying to help the environment.
One such product caught my eye this year: Who Gives a Crap toilet paper.
It turns out that the company that specializes in recycled toilet paper is meeting a much greater need than I would have imagined.
Most adults in the US use the equivalent of around 384 trees worth of toilet paper across their lifetime. And while the majority of the wood used to make toilet paper comes from the leftovers of larger pieces cut for other purposes, that’s still a lot of trees to flush.
As Danny Alexander, the company’s co-founder, told CNN, Who Gives a Crap was started to accomplish two main goals.
The first was to create an environmentally sustainable product that people actually enjoyed using. While that may seem pretty straightforward, figuring out how to make toilet paper out of recycled or alternative fiber papers that didn’t feel like wiping with tree bark was apparently a bit more complicated than one might think. Getting the quality right was essential, though, because no matter how much a person may want to care for the environment, asking them to repeatedly use an inferior product to do it is simply not going to work for long.
To that end, in addition to their recycled paper products—which are still better than most single-ply rolls—the company also offers toilet paper made from bamboo, which grows back much more quickly than trees and provides a better product overall.
Their second goal was even more ambitious.
As Alexander notes, “The toilet, the world’s most life-saving invention, is out of reach for billions of people around the world.” As a result, Who Gives a Crap donates half of its profits—$7.5 million and counting—to charities and organizations like Wateraid, Shofco, and Sanergy to bring clean water and sanitation to communities where those essentials are often lacking.
The work is far from done, however, and Alexander estimates that it could take billions, if not trillions, of dollars to effectively bring clean water and sanitation to the billions of people around the world who still don’t consistently have it.
Every little bit helps, though, and that’s true whether we’re talking about working with underserved communities across the globe or what you choose to flush down the toilet when nature calls.
Regardless of what you may think about subjects like climate change, renewable energy, or a host of other ecological hot topics—most of which are often discussed in a far too simplistic and heavy-handed manner, in my opinion—I hope we can all recognize that God’s call to steward the planet that he has entrusted to our care is something we should not take lightly (Genesis 1:26; 2:15).
Now, that stewardship may not look the same for every person, and acting as though there is a one-size-fits-all solution to taking care of his creation is not a viable or biblical approach. But while it would be wrong to say that everyone needs to drive electric cars or switch to solar energy to power their homes, it’s just as wrong to discount the issues we’re facing or act as though we have no role to play in making things better.
So whether your role in God’s plan for this planet is something as simple as using more recycled products or as big as helping to organize efforts to deal with waste and contaminated water on a national scale, make sure that you’re at least asking the question and then listening to the Lord’s response.
In other words, give a crap.