4/15/12

Green Teeth: Introducing the Environmental Toothbrush

A few months ago I wrote a post about the terrible effects of plastic on our oceans, and ways to reduce your use of plastic. Since then I’ve been preoccupied with the dominant role this substance plays in our daily lives. All too often I find myself puzzling over what to do with a used biro, or the plastic clip that came with the packet of rice cakes I bought from the supermarket.

Toothbrushes are one of the many plastic products we buy and throw away, not realising that there are other options. I use old ones for cleaning grouting and around taps and sinkholes but there’s only so many toothbrushes you need for this purpose!

Enter the Environmental Toothbrush. Apparently the brainchild of a Brisbane dentist, its handle is made of sustainable bamboo. It’s designed to be thrown away, but the company claims that the entire toothbrush, including the bristles, is fully compostable and will biodegrade in soil without pollution.

The bristles of most normal toothbrushes are made with nylon. The bristles of the Environmental Toothbrush are made with a polymer that in ideal conditions composts within 48 hours. But non-ideal conditions are often the problem with compostable plastics, and apparently these bristles compost even in the sea. The company chose polymer in preference to pigs hair or horses hair, options that would have been objectionable to vegans.

The design is both simple and appealing. The bamboo handle looks good and is nice to hold; people who’ve started to use wood implements after years of plastic often mention how pleasant it is to look at as well as touch. We seem genetically designed to crave natural substances. The packaging is biodegradable, a nice change from the insult of even more plastic to dispose of when you buy a conventional toothbrush.

The big ifs with this toothbrush are two-fold – the energy used to create it and the conditions of the workers who manufacture them in China, where they’re made.

Without any information to the contrary I’d have to assume that the toothbrushes are made using conventional power. As for working conditions, we’re completely in the dark, which is too often the case with eco-friendly products. I’d like to think this product is people-friendly but at this point there’s nothing on the website to assure me of this.

Even without these assurances, however, this toothbrush is a definite step forward. It was the only eco-conscious toothbrush made by an Australian company that I could find on the web.

The price is a big positive; at $AU36 for a packet of 12, it works out at only $3 per toothbrush. The only drawback is that you have to buy them in bulk.

The Environmental Toothbrush can be bought online from the website, and the company ships worldwide. Freight is free within Australia. The toothbrush is also available at a number of Australian retail outlets – see the site for details.

Disclosure: I received a free sample toothbrush from the company.

Until next time!

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