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Interview with Chris Forbes - his eco-piphany

Sustainable toilet roll
Image by Elly Johnson on Unsplash

The Beagle Button is a sustainability tech start-up. We have designed an online tool that helps you shop more sustainably online. Whether it's plastic free, recycled, vegan, ethically sourced or any other of our carefully selected metrics, we'll find you recommendations for better alternatives when you shop online. We aim to make sustainability accessible and affordable for everyday items, from furniture to shoes. It might seem difficult to switch to a more sustainable lifestyle, but that is not necessarily the case. You simply need the right tools and a little inspiration.

We have decided to share with you our sources of inspiration, in the hope that they will do the same for you. We have chased up the people and companies that inspired us to create the Beagle Button, and are revolutionising sustainability. We're very grateful that Chris Forbes agreed to being interviewed.

Chris Forbes

Chris Forbes founded the sustainable start up Cheeky Panda with his wife Julia. Together they have grown this massively successful sustainable B-corporation. Chris grew up in the Highlands in Scotland and has always felt connected to his environment. Before Cheeky Panda he was not particularly eco-oriented in his work. This all changed in 2016 when his wife discovered a fast growing, sustainable resource: bamboo.

Cheeky Panda produces ultra-sustainable, skin-friendly, soft tissue paper, toilet rolls and facial wipes. Instead of making paper-based products from standard hard and softwood trees Cheeky Panda uses bamboo. Bamboo is renewable and quick growing, and a plentiful resource. Bamboo also absorbs 35% more carbon and releases 30% more oxygen than the trees traditionally used to produce paper products. Cheeky Panda is the first tissue company in the UK to be registered with the Vegan Society, and it is Leaping Bunny certified; this means that all Cheeky Panda products are both cruelty free AND vegan.

In our interview Chris says that his eco-piphany, the moment of revelation that kick started his sustainability journey, was when Julia shared with him her discovery of bamboo as a sustainable resource. She remarked that bamboo grew 30 times faster than trees, and together they decided that launching a company was a ‘no brainer.’ In January 2016 they founded the Cheeky Panda.

Sustainability might be the obvious solution to many issues, however an idea does not simply become a thriving business overnight. In our interview Chris admitted building Cheeky Panda was not straightforward. Chris and Julia had to test the market, finance production, sales and marketing, all while juggling their jobs. Chris stated that ‘setting up a business is time consuming and risky, but done well it is hugely emotionally rewarding.’

The Cheeky Panda is now a booming business that is constantly growing and fine-tuning its products to be as sustainable as possible. The Cheeky Panda is now a carbon-balanced B-Corporation, and their tissues and toilet rolls are even sold in biodegradable packaging. In 2016 Cheeky Panda was just an idea, and today it is ranked 6th out of the top 100 UK start-ups. Currently Cheeky Panda products are sold in 25 countries and if all goes to plan it will expand further into Asian markets. Chris is nowhere near done!

Before we ended our interview with Chris we asked him what his top sustainable-swaps were. He obviously recommended switching to bamboo tissue. Aside from his own brilliant products he suggested eco household dishwasher tablets and washing up liquid. These are ridden with chemicals and by using an eco alternative you are minimising your impact on the water cycle.

We are so grateful to Chris for taking the time to speak to us here at the Beagle Button. Companies such as the Cheeky Panda are so inspirational, as they are both sustainable and have been built from the ground up. We are proud to say that we are growing everyday, and hope to have success similar to that of The Cheeky Panda. Feel free to check out our Instagram or Facebook page, and don’t forget to sign up online for the Beagle Button tool. We are currently in the beta phase of our product launch, so if you install our chrome extension tool please let us know if you stumble upon something you think could be improved!

Our interview with Chris is the second in a series of interviews. In this series we plan to ask each interviewee what their eco-piphany was. How did that moment change their life? And what is their top sustainability swap. We look forward to sharing other interviews and blog posts from this series soon.