Sanmarie Grobler and Tom Trow

Exeter graduates ‘on a roll’ to save planet with launch of carbon-negative toilet paper startup

Two Exeter graduates have launched a startup producing the world's first and only carbon-negative toilet roll.

Tom Trow, who studied Business Economics at the University of Exeter Business School, and Sanmarie Grobler, who graduated with a BA in Liberal Arts, launched their startup Bazoo after feeling inspired by SMEs who go out of their way to make positive changes for the planet.

The pair graduated in July 2020 during the height of the pandemic and decided to respond to the situation by starting a company that would make a positive impact on the planet. 

With support from the SETsquared Exeter Student Startups team, Tom and Sanmarie developed their startup, which offers tree-free and carbon-negative toilet rolls made from 100 per cent FSC certified sustainable bamboo.

They put sustainability at the heart of their fledgling enterprise by working with environmental impact company Climate Care to calculate and reduce carbon emissions in production and manufacturing, before offsetting the remaining emissions by 200 per cent.

This means that the carbon footprint of every Bazoo product will be less than zero, leading to an overall reduction in carbon emissions entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Exeter graduates partnered with two UK-based sustainability charities – Rainforest Trust UK and Devon and Cornwall-based Just One Ocean, who carry out local ocean plastic pickups, as well as focusing efforts on protecting habitats and species around the world.

“Bazoo is all about sustainability,” said Tom. “We want to do the Earth and all its species proud – and hope we can make Exeter proud too!”

Tom and Sanmarie have received ongoing support and advice from the SETsquared Exeter Student Startups team, and recently completed the Student Startups Incubator programme, which supported them in building and launching the business through skills development masterclasses and one-to-one mentoring.

They were also granted £3,500 of start-up funding, made possible through Santander Universities UK.

Sanmarie said: “Being a part of the Student Startups programme at Exeter was such an eye-opening experience for us that not only encouraged us to take our first steps into the entrepreneurial world, but helped us do exactly that.

“Everything that the programme offered us, from mentors to weekly catch-ups and endless alumni contacts, helped us hugely in setting the foundation which we started to build Bazoo on.”

Emily Davies, SETsquared Student Startups Manager, said Tom and Sanmarie had been “an absolute joy to work with”.

She added: Their energy, dedication and commitment have impressed both the Student Startup team and the other student and graduate founders in our programme.

“They have come so far with this venture over the past few months and we can’t wait to be see how the next chapters unfold in the weeks and months to come.”

For more information visit the Bazoo website.

Date: 12 July 2021

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