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“The world doesn’t need another toilet paper brand. It needs one that’s sustainable, innovative, and carbon neutral.”
Lisa Frame and Isidro Hurtado were drinking margaritas when their conversation somehow veered to toilet paper.
Now, this subject may not seem too out of the ordinary—especially if the margaritas were strong enough—but their casual discussion ultimately led Frame to pose a question: “Why [are we] literally flushing trees down the drain just so we could wipe our butts?” After mulling over the answer, the two did what anyone with a sticky idea would: pulled out their phones and started researching.
Frame and Hurtado’s findings yielded some concerning discoveries about the environmental impact of toilet paper, namely that we are literally flushing the world’s forests down our pipes. Recent studies show that 27,000 trees are chopped down every single day to make toilet paper—in the U.S. alone. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an estimated 18 million acres of forest are lost each year. After reviewing these frightening statistics, the two were shocked that no one had come up with an earth-friendly solution to this problem.
Today, it feels like there is an environmentally friendly version of every product––from toothbrushes to textiles. And it’s no surprise, after all; climate change is on everyone’s mind and big brands are finally heeding the warning signs to slow down the impact all of this waste is having on our planet. While it’s easy to connect things like single-use plastic waste and factory-farmed meat production to environmental harm, toilet paper is an equally important culprit.
Enter Bippy, Frame and Hurtado’s four-month-old “modern personal care brand for your Butt.” Bippy toilet paper is made from bamboo, which is soft, renewable and helps to remove carbon dioxide from the earth’s atmosphere. Following their initial TP talk, the two got to work on launching their idea. “We were pretty fired up after that night so we hit the ground running the next day,” Frame says. “I found and called hundreds of toilet paper manufacturers and we tested about 100 different variations almost immediately.”
From the start, Bippy was less than impressed by the toilet paper status quo. They learned that most toilet paper is made from hardwood trees, which in addition to destroying forests and wrecking our plumbing, “isn’t even that great on your butt.” Bippy’s paper is soft, and because bamboo is regenerative, production doesn’t destroy large swaths of forest. Despite the seriousness of the world’s current environmental crisis, Frame approaches her business with optimism and levity: “Hey, when your products are made for buttholes you have to have a sense of humor!”
Frame and Hurtado have been bootstrapping their venture, and are preparing to begin fundraising. Bippy is currently a part of the Backstage Capital accelerator, an experience they say has been incredibly rewarding. “We are all in the trenches together and are also celebrating each other,” Frame says. “Having a start-up is incredibly emotional and puts founders in really uncomfortable and vulnerable situations. It’s been great to have a community who is right there with you.”
Frame says the pair is thrilled to be a part of the growing sustainable consumer packaged goods movement. “It’s incredible to see so many eco-friendly alternatives to everyday essentials popping up,” Frame says. The duo is also passionate about educating their brand’s customers about the impact they can have by switching to bamboo toilet paper. As part of their brand’s mission, Bippy offers a Tree-Free Butt Pledge that plants a tree in each participant’s honor.
However, despite the many companies that are pushing the needle when it comes to sustainability, there are also some companies that are simply greenwashing their products. Frame says the best way for brands to move beyond the performance of social responsibility and actually make an impact is to be intentional about every part of the supply chain—which includes manufacturing partners. “Imagine if every brand demanded fuel efficiency and eco-ethical packaging from their manufacturers,” Frame adds. “The positive impact could be incredible.”
Frame and Hurtado have certainly come a long way since their initial round of margaritas, and yet the Bippy team is still at the beginning of its entrepreneurial journey. But they have high hopes for the future. For now, the pair’s focus is on continuing to build the brand and secure funding. More than anything, the founders want to ensure they are able to make a lasting difference with their product. “The world doesn’t need another toilet paper brand,” Frame says. “It needs one that’s sustainable, innovative, and carbon neutral. So that’s what we are building.”