The toilet paper that’s changing the state of sanitation in South Africa

The toilet paper that’s changing the state of sanitation in South Africa

Ruan AJ Coetzee, from Port Elizabeth is the pioneer behind Güdsheet – South Africa’s first plastic-free toilet paper.

toilet paper initiative
Supplied: Beautiful News

When nature calls, you can’t put it on hold. Using the toilet is an essential part of being human. But having one is a privilege. In South Africa, thousands of people still have no access to proper sanitation. Worldwide, more than four billion face the same situation. Turning to buckets and pit latrines, they’re exposed to bacteria that leads to diarrhoea and waterborne diseases. When Ruan Coetzee saw kids in these circumstances, it broke his heart. So he set out to better their lives – starting with humble sheets of toilet paper.

Coetzee is the pioneer of Güdsheet, toilet paper designed to change the plight of those who don’t have any. “Sanitation is a fundamental human right because it provides dignity and an improved quality of life,” he says. This includes water, ablution facilities, and cleaning products. Coetzee dedicates a portion of his profits to upgrading the sanitation in schools in the Eastern Cape. “Our mission is to provide a toilet for all,” he says.

Coetzee’s efforts are also providing a sustainable answer to environmental destruction. “We cut down 27 000 trees a day just to wipe,” he says. “I wanted to be part of a solution that addressed as many human rights as possible.” Coetzee makes his toilet paper out of locally-sourced sugarcane and wood pulp, creating an alternative that benefits communities as well as the earth. “We can make a difference one sheet at a time,” he says. When it comes to caring, Coetzee is on a roll.

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