How Who Gives A Crap deforested the Hundred Acre Wood
In a beautifully-crafted campaign highlighting the impact of deforestation, the eco-friendly toilet paper brand has launched a heartbreaking, first-of-its-kind reimagining of the iconic 1926 children’s book Winnie-The-Pooh. We talk to the brand's co-founder, Danny Alexander, about the creative process, challenges, and outcomes of recreating a childhood classic.
Since the beloved British children’s book Winnie-The-Pooh entered the public domain in 2022, its characters and illustrations have become free to use legally, and there have certainly been some interesting iterations of the nation's favourite woodland friends.
Riding the wave of Winnie-The-Pooh revisions is environmentally-friendly toilet paper brand, Who Gives A Crap, with a bespoke yet haunting republication that shines light on the devastating effects of deforestation.
If you aren’t familiar with A. A. Milne’s 1926 classic, it tells the story of a good-natured, anthropomorphic bear, his fellow animal friends, a young boy called Christopher Robin, and the magical adventures they share in the Hundred Acre Woods.
With the book’s original illustrations adapted to show Pooh and his crew left homeless at the hands of human destruction, Who Gives a Crap’s campaign cleverly tugs at our childhood heart strings to drive home its important message.
How did the idea for this project come about?
In 2022, we commissioned an environmental impact report to understand the real impact of traditional toilet paper production. We were horrified to discover that over 1 million trees are cut down every single day just to make traditional toilet paper. It blew our minds, and since then we’ve been sharing that statistic in every way we can!
This idea came about as we were brainstorming ways that we could really reach a wider audience with this message. We also think Winnie-The-Pooh’s eternal positivity is a perfect reflection of us as a brand. We are optimistic that as a society we can make a positive impact on deforestation and preserve our beloved forests.
The new illustrations are meant to generate conversation among readers, old or young, about the impact we have on the world around us.
How has the campaign been received by the public so far? Has it garnered the intended reaction?
Well, we sold out of the books in less than 48 hours, so I’d say the response has been pretty great! The message about deforestation has resonated with people who grew up with this story—they understand the message behind it.
Did you feel that you had big shoes to fill, trying to reimagine such an iconic, beloved book as Winnie-The-Pooh?
Although the updated illustrations reflect an unfortunate reality of our time, we ensured that the original story of Winnie-The-Pooh remained unchanged. It's exactly as A.A. Milne wrote it, so the story itself should still inspire further generations of Winnie-The-Pooh fans.
It’s worth noting that while the deforestation in the images is confronting, we see this book as hopeful.
Can you tell us more about the illustration, design, and creative process? How long did it take?
All the illustrations were done by Who Gives A Crap over a four-week period. Using the original illustrations, they digitally redrew each one that included a tree or a shrub, adjusting them to reflect the impact of deforestation on our forest friends. The original illustrations that did not have trees were recoloured.
Unlock full credits and more with a Source + shots membership.
The story has a sad and slightly worrying underlying message…was it intended for adults or children?
Much like the original, Who Gives A Crap's Winnie-The-Pooh: The Deforested Edition is appropriate for all ages. The new illustrations add a deeper meaning to the story, which we think anyone will love.
Deforestation can seem like an abstract concept because we’re often so far removed from it.
It’s worth noting that while the deforestation in the images is confronting, we see this book as hopeful. We hope that our readers, armed with a better understanding of the impact of their daily habits, will make simple changes to improve their impact. The new illustrations are meant to generate conversation among readers, old or young, about the impact we have on the world around us.
What are you hoping the outcome of the book will be? Do you think it will bring about real change?
Deforestation can seem like an abstract concept because we’re often so far removed from it. We hope the new illustrations can motivate parents to have conversations about the environment with their children, and prompt all of us (children and adults alike) to consider the small changes we can make for the benefit of our environment.
When re-illustrating the book, we were guided by a “What would Winnie-the-Pooh think” ethos.
What was the most rewarding part of the project?
We’ve found a creative way to deliver an important message that is at the heart of the existence of Who Gives A Crap. Seeing people respond to that, to something that is authentic to something they grew up loving, has been deeply rewarding.
What were the challenges?
As a global brand we want to ensure we can speak to all our customers however, due to copyright laws we are only able to share it with our US customers. We are hopeful that as Winnie-the-Pooh enters the public domain in Australia and the UK in 2027 we can share it with our audiences in those two countries as well.
Milne created Winnie-the-Pooh to be steadfast, thoughtful, friendly and kind-hearted, and the message behind this republish is rooted in being all of those things as good stewards of our environment.
What do you think A. A. Milne would have to say about the story?
When re-illustrating the book, we were guided by a “What would Winnie-the-Pooh think” ethos, which of course is directly related to how Milne chose to craft the character. Milne created Winnie-the-Pooh to be steadfast, thoughtful, friendly and kind-hearted, and the message behind this republish is rooted in being all of those things as good stewards of our environment.