Fighting deforestation “one loo at a time”

There are about 3 trillion trees left on earth, which is about 400 trees per person. Seems like a lot, but what if we told you that since human civilisation, half of all trees have been cut down? How about the fact that 15 billion trees are lost each year?  If that does not scare you, perhaps the yearly haze that covers Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia does. The haze we all loathe is a direct result of deforestation, where vegetation is cleared via the slash-and-burn method for resources like palm oil, paper and pulp.

27 thousand trees are cut down every day just to make toilet paper.  One man is on a mission to change that “one loo at a time”. David Ward is the founder and GM of NooTrees, a subsidiary of The FJ Benjamin Group in Singapore, and which uses bamboo instead of wood. We caught up with him earlier this month to chat about the company, the environment, and how alternative supply chains will increasingly become a key priority for businesses.

Green supply chains – a better alternative for the environment

Unlike wood from trees, bamboo is a much more efficient way of producing paper. “It takes 30 years to grow a tree, but it only takes three years for bamboo to reach maturity,” says David. In the same time frame, bamboo is able to produce 5 to 6 times more raw material than a tree.

The beauty of the bamboo plant also stems from the fact that it can be grown on degenerated land spaces, and does not require the grade A arable land that trees need to grow on. “We can then keep that grade A arable land free for animals, crops, and for mankind’s other uses,” he says.

With one amazing innovation, NooTrees checks off 3 out of the 17 United Nation’s goals for sustainable development!

When asked why he began this journey into bamboo, David’s answer was simple. Such a product did not exist in the market.

“I knew the technology to create these things existed, so I decided to use my 25 years of experience building brands, and create a sustainable brand that could push Singapore’s image forward,” he says.

What you might not know about David is that he studied engineering before moving into building various world wide known brands. It re-affirmed our belief that engineering can be one of the most important professions creating and driving sustainable product innovations!


This technology to use bamboo as an alternative to wood and timber was started by the Chinese government in the 1980s, because the nation was facing a lack of timber. Turning this into a business opportunity, the bamboo export industry in China is now worth approximately $9 billion.


Also innovating for good business, is Caboo from Canada and Nimbus Eco out of the US. Both brands are using grassy fibers from bamboo and sugarcane instead of wood from trees. Like NooTrees, their bamboo is sourced from China, where 45% of bamboo globally is grown.

David’s plans for the future are to increase the brands bamboo product range. He now has bamboo-made facial tissues and wet wipes, on top of his toilet paper range, but where we feel NooTrees is going to make a bigger positive impact on the environment is its soon to be introduced bamboo core based diaper range called BumBams. This is particularly relevant because conventional diapers and sanitary napkins are some of the most difficult types of waste to manage – made mainly of plastic, hard to segregate, and hard to biodegrade. Diapers are the 3rd biggest contributor to landfills globally! With innovations like bamboo diapers, we could yet dig our way out of this sticky situation that our planet finds itself in.

What sets NooTrees apart is not just the product itself, but also its packaging. Some toilet paper brands have plastic packaging that takes more than 200 years to decompose. It is ridiculous to think about how long it takes to use a roll of toilet paper, versus the time the plastic packaging takes to degenerate. NooTrees on the other hand uses an oxy-biodegradable packaging that takes only a remarkable three years to degenerate.

It is not just bamboo that companies are using to disrupt traditional supply chains. Ecovate is a company that uses mushroom not to cook your favourite fungus-based dishes, but to also create sustainable products that mimic the properties of wood and foam.

At the end of the day, supply chain disruption still relies much in consumers’ purchasing decisions.

An online platform – Project Just, reviews brands of their supply chain ethics and sustainability, to help consumers make a more informed decision before they purchase a product.

We consume more and more products each year, and at current rates, the world’s supply of resources are dwindling rapidly. With a combination of innovations like NooTrees and their peers, as well as moving our industries into circular economies, we not only move towards net-zero impact societies but can drive thriving businesses by doing so!

As I mentioned in my previous post, the haze has made so many of us sit up and pay attention to environmental issues. So when I was asked if I was keen to review NooTrees products, and I was told that NooTrees products are sustainable and biodegradable bamboo-based wet-wipes and tissue paper products, I was in!

I have not noticed bamboo household paper products before, so I was pleasantly surprised to learn from NooTrees some things about bamboo as a sustainable alternative to paper made from trees:

  • Bamboo is a grass not a hardwood
  • It is one of the fastest growing plants in the world.
  • Unlike trees, which can take up to 30 years to grow back and mature, bamboo will grow back as quickly as 3-4 months and can be re-harvested in 1-2 years without replanting.
  • Using products made from bamboo will reduce over-logging and deforestation.
  • The planting of mono tree forests, which will take 30 plus years to mature, and destroy the local biosphere
  • 20% of all carbon emissions in the atmosphere come directly from this deforestation, this is more than all the cars of the world combined.
  • Bamboo can grow in environments with depleted soil and little water and actually returns nutrients to the soil, which improves degraded areas. Trees require grade A arable land to grow
  • Bamboo doesn’t require fertilisers, insecticides or pesticides to grow.
  • Bamboo is more eco-friendly than recycled paper as it is virgin pulp, so no possibilities of BPA’s being present on top of all the above sustainability reasons why bamboo beats wood.
  • It is believed that if bamboo were planted on a mass basis it could completely reverse the effects of global warming in just 6 years, while providing a renewable source of food, building material, and erosion prevention.
  • Trees used for wood pulp take 30 to 50 years to generate to their full mass, whereas one bamboo plant can be harvested every 3 to 7 years and will produce 5 to 6 times the volume of raw material during the period of grow of a industry selected tree (Fir) per hectare.

Sounds good so far right? Find out more about bamboo on the NooTrees website.

So they might be environmentally-friendly, but are they any good? Well, let me tell you why my friend Xavvy-licious and I have been raving about them.


NooTrees is featured as the only consumer brand in the lead article in The Today Newspaper in Singapore, dated October 3rd.

The interview with NooTrees GM David Ward is a pert of a main story on the Haze which Singapore and the surrounding region is suffering under.

Positioned as the alternative in the growing consumer switch away from wood pulp products NooTrees is supportive all efforts to reduce the haze and strongly encourage consumers to take control and vote with their wallets.

"We can feel there is a ground swell of energy to make an impact on this issue, and many consumers are now standing up and saying enough and choosing to switch from wood pulp based products. They are sensing they can change this situation, and as we are advocating a switch to a more sustainable, more environmentally friendly raw material (bamboo) we will be working harder again to offer those wanting to change a wide selection of suitable alternatives"


NooTrees is available nation wide in Singapore from the 15th October, and online via and

NooTrees is about to launch across Singapore in September.

In less than a year it has gone from a crazy idea to reality with the full backing of the renown group FJ Benjamin, based in Singapore.

Having created the brand and idea for the sustainable products brand NooTrees founder David Ward took the idea in search of support and funding in November 2014.

Less than six weeks later a new company was formed, wholly owned by the FJ Benjamin Group and development began.

NooTrees PTE Ltd are proud to be able offer a wide range of 100% bamboo based products at the launch in September.

"It's a truly great feeling when you find others that believe in your idea" said David Ward

"We have worked against the clock with our manufacturing partners to create a diverse range of products matching the needs of consumers here in Singapore and elsewhere in the region from the start.

We are all very excited about the difference this small beginning could make to all our lives in the future" added Ward.

So please join us in helping to change the world.


It's Cool to Care.