Beyond the Footprint: Handprinting, and how awesome it is for your brand

Today I left the house and handed out toilet paper to people.

Why? Not just because I ordered 48 rolls of toilet paper and had no room in the apartment. I did it because it’s too easy and inspiring not to.

Who Gives a Crap make good toilet paper and donate half of their profit to charity. They do good by doing well in an innovative and creative way: With the arrival of my order last night there was an envelope with a letter stating how much money the company’s donated to WaterAid to build toilets for those in need – $428,500. It’s aiming to donate $1million next year.

They ask if I could help by giving away a few of my rolls, and give recipients the opportunity to get $10 off their first order. To help me deliver this favour they supplied:

  1. A humorous and informative letter about their donations and objectives
  2. A cool little activity booklet to do whilst on the loo and
  3. 4 cheeky cards that I can personalise and hand over to people together with the toilet paper (which in my opinion is a good number, I’d felt pressure if it had been more).

So, what does this do?

  • It promotes and strengthens their brand as a company that is fun, creative and “do-good”.
  • It encourages me to give away some of what I have bought to someone else, basically paying to promote their product (genius!).
  • It made me smile.
  • It raises awareness for the fact that, worldwide, more than 2 billion people don’t have access to a toilet.
  • It gives the audience an opportunity to act on something that the company already knows (since the customer purchased their product in the first place): they care about making a difference through their purchasing power.

Significantly, this opportunity doesn’t require a donation to an institution. It doesn’t require that the individual participate in a march, host an event nor do volunteer work (all valid ways to contribute, by the way!). It costs $1 per roll and encourages the buyer to have an interesting chat and a laugh with a friend or a stranger.

There’s a name for what this company is doing: handprinting. It is a relatively new framework for sustainability that looks at the positive benefits an organisation has, beyond its footprint. The consortium Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise (SHINE), is currently working on a methodology for handprinting, to account for the ‘credits’ side of individual and corporate environmental ledgers — not just the debits, as the footprinting framework calculates.

As with any company, Who Gives a Crap has an impact – all companies do – but it also creates value to society and to the environment. While they do address their impact, they actively create and promote positive social and environmental actions. You can learn more about handprinting on this article from

There’s much talk about reducing our impacts and ‘doing less bad’. It’s about time companies, organisations, countries and people talk and act about doing ‘more good’, too.

And so, this morning I put 4 toilet paper rolls and 4 cards in my car. I gave them to a stranger who was getting ready for a surf. To a woman I started chatting to about the weather. To the manager of the café where I get my morning coffee, and to that guy who has amazing hair that I’d spoken to a few times in the surf. Because it was too easy and inspiring not to do.

Let’s give a crap and start creating positive value and change today. If a toilet paper company can inspire, imagine what you can do with your brand, network and influence.


p.s. the 10$ discount code is: DOINGOODLOOKINGOOD

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