July 24, 2014

I Brush with Bamboo, Do You?

Think about your toothbrush for a second. 

Yes, i'm serious. 

It's made of plastic, most likely, and comes packaged in plastic and you will probably use it for a month or whatever until it gets all gnarled up and then throw it in the trash because what else are you supposed to do with it, right? 

NOT ANYMORE!

My friend Ro Kumar has the solution to eliminating plastic toothbrushes that will stick around much, much longer than you will, and I must say, it's pretty awesome. 

Ro is founder of Brush with Bamboo, a brand that sells gorgeous, biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes that will rid you of your toxic toothbrush troubles once and for all. I have used them for years now and they are my fave!

PS - Guess what, if you want to grab a toothbrush from Brush with Bamboo, enter code 'TrashIsforTossers' for a 10% discount and free US shipping! 

Okay, back to Ro. Ro is really cool. Not only is he an expert on plastic pollution, he is a grad of both Berkeley and Stanford and has been featured in the Huffington Post, at the Plastics 360 Conference, and the Zero Waste Youth Summit! Also - his parent's house in Cali produces 5000 lbs of Organic produce every year. If that was not enough, he is helping to produce a doc called Generation Food, with filmmaker Steve James and best-selling author Raj Patel. I know. I wanted to be friends with him too. 

So I decided to ask Ro a few questions to learn a bit more about him:
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What is Brush With Bamboo and how was it created?
It all started almost 3 years ago. I watched a documentary movie called Plastic Planet with some friends and family. The film opened my eyes to how plastic is destroying the environment and human health. That night, I remember looking at my plastic toothbrush and it just didn't make sense to me anymore. Originally, I just wanted to find an eco-friendly toothbrush for myself. But when I couldn't find a good one on the market, I decided to create my own - and that was the birth of Brush with Bamboo. 
Today, Brush with Bamboo manufactures what is currently the most environmentally-conscious toothbrush on the market (aside from using a neem stick or miswak stick, this is the best available bristled toothbrush!). We use a bamboo handle, a commercially compostable wrapper, a box made from paper that folds together using no glues, and nylon bristles. 

Why is bamboo more sustainable than plastic?
Simply put, plastic never biodegrades because it is not part of nature's food chain. There is a common misconception that plastic takes a really long time to biodegrade, but the reality is that as far as we can project, plastic never goes away because there is no other corresponding thing in nature that can break plastic down. 

Bamboo, on the other hand, is one of the most versatile and sustainable materials on earth. Bamboo can grow up to 4 inches per day with minimal water, it is naturally vigorous and does not need pesticides or fertilizers to grow, and it has the tensile strength of steel. It's truly a gift from nature, and as we begin to replace plastic with other materials, I think we're going to see bamboo becoming an essential part of the new green economy.

What does the future of BWB look like? 
I am extremely passionate about bringing our production as close as possible to true long-term sustainability. It's my promise that as we grow, we will change our model to become more truly ecological. I think this is why we have received public endorsements from many leading environmentalists like Ed Begley Jr., 5 Gyres, and Beth Terry. 

We're working on plant-based alternatives to the plastic nylon bristles that we currently use. Currently, the only alternative to nylon bristles is pig hair. Most of all though, our main work is to expand awareness about plastic pollution. The more people become aware, the more our business will grow. This is why we put our full weight behind change makers like filmmaker Angela Sun, who just came out with a new major documentary movie called Plastic Paradise that will be hitting theaters soon. 

If you could make a suggestion to someone about something they could do to create a more sustainable world, what would you tell them? 
I would say: start by eliminating single use plastics. We mostly see these in the form of bags, bottles, cups, and utensils. I really feel like plastic is the biggest symbol of everything that is wrong. Start by refusing single use plastic. It's hard, and even I slip sometimes, but after a while anything done consistently becomes a stronger and stronger habit. 

Do you have any sustainability tips/secrets?
Visualization. I try to visualize things like plastic forks, batteries, or plastic toothbrushes being picked up by some kid 2000 years in the future. I think about how in the future they will wonder why we were so complacent, and why we tolerated living in filth. I don't want to be someone that just stood around and watched it happen. I want to be one of those people that stood up for something better. 
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When i'm done with these biodegradable toothbrushes, I remove the bristles and use them as garden markets or coffee stirrers for my french press, but the possibilities for reuse are endless! 
Again, if ya want to order some toothbrushes, head over to Brush with Bamboo, enter code 'TrashIsforTossers' and you'll get a 10% discount and free US shipping! Sweet, doood. 

ANNNDDDD to make life even more Zero Waste and plastic-free - here is my Zero Waste Toothpaste recipe that you can use with your new Brush With Bamboo toothbrush! 
Zero Waste Toothpaste Recipe:
3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 1/2 tablespoons baking soda
25-30 drops Organic food grade peppermint essential oil (or cinnamon oil, it's delicious, but try 10 drops and then add more as desired) 

Mix all three ingredients in a glass dish (I use a mason jar).

To use, scoop out a little bit with a spoon and put it onto your toothbrush. Add more or less peppermint or coconut oil depending on your textural preference.

I suggest using it for a few days. Give yourself some time to adjust, I had to. It's pretty different, but that's OK.

18 comments:

  1. Cool toothpaste recipe!! Going to try that

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    1. Thanks! I love it and have been using it for a couple of years now, it's fun to experiment with the flavors!

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  2. We've been using these toothbrushes, and they're great! They feel so much better than the plastic ones, and clean just as well. We're also using baking soda as toothpaste, although sans coconut oil.

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    1. I totally agree that they feel better than the plastic ones! I was using just baking soda for a while, but I love the coconut oil as a carrier for essential oils which make the paste taste so good! :)

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  3. Awesome! I have been using a compostable corn-plastic toothbrush for a while now (like, over a year...) and have been meaning to start buying bamboo ones. This looks like a great company to support. Thanks for the discount code!

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    1. They are so great, i'm sure you will love them! Enjoy! :)

      Lauren

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  4. I have a question. Why does Brush with Bamboo use a commercially compostable plastic as the wrapper, when most people don't have access to commercial composting facilities? Surely that still means plastic waste and plastic landfill? I only ask because I use bamboo toothbrushes made by an Australian company that come in a box with no plastic (or bioplastic or "biodegradable" plastic at all) - it's called "Environmental Toothbrush", and I'm pretty sure they sell worldwide.

    Maybe that's not really a question for you, it's a question for Ro, but I'd be interested to know.

    Thanks! : )

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    1. Hi Lindsay,

      I told Ro about your question so hopefully he will respond here soon since I can't answer it, although I think it might be some legal thing that all US toothbrushes need to be wrapped in plastic, so maybe that is the best option?? But don't hold me to that! We'll see what he has to say.

      Lauren

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    2. Hi Lindsay - please see my response below - happy to answer any further questions you have.

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  5. Hi Lindsay - I believe you just got a response from my dad via email but I know some additional information so will elaborate here. We have to use some type of wrapper for legal, sanitary, and liability reasons. If you'll notice, there aren't any toothbrushes on the the US Market that that have packaging that can be opened so that you can feel the bristles and the handle of the toothbrush directly with your hands (that's what the packaging on the Environmental Toothbrush allows you to do). Even though you can see our toothbrush through the window in our box, we still have store managers tell us that the toothbrush boxes are frequently opened by customers trying to get a better look. We use the wrapper to ensure the 100% guaranteed sanitary condition and safety of our product when it gets in the customer's hands - no risk of any dirty hand, liquid spill, or anything like that getting through to the physical product that goes in one's mouth. I'm not sure what the legal atmosphere in Australia is like, but we all know how litigious the USA is - so we have to take every precaution.

    This all being said - I 100% agree with you about bioplastic. When I first started this, knowing not too much about bioplastic, I thought bioplastic was great - but now I know it needs to either be improved or eliminated. As my dad mentioned to you, we're currently in the process of switching to either NatureFlex (home compostable wood cellulose wrapper) or a wax paper-based option. But we will be switching for sure - we're going to try NatureFlex on the next batch we produce this month.

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  6. Don't you guys know siwak / miswak ? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miswak

    It is a bit of a branch from tha arak tree an d it pretty much does everything : brush AND toothpaste,

    it's easy to carry, and easy to use. As far as i am concerned, it feels really nice, and my teeth stay clean a long time with it
    it is really cheap too, and is healthy for the planet, i cannot find better :)

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  7. http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_eye/2014/12/01/the_goodwell_company_toothbrush_by_patrick_triato_is_engineered_to_last.html?wpsrc=fol_tw check this one out

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  8. Hey Lauren!

    (I don't know if my previous comment were sent or not)
    I just found your blog and it is truly inspirational.
    And BIG CONGRATS to the very successful kickstarter campaign!

    I have a question about the toothbrush, are the brittles made of nylon like regular toothbrushes?
    If so then it is not fully biodegradable, right? Or if the whole toothbrush is then that's amazing and I would get one!

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  9. Hi Lauren,
    Where can I buy Food Grade Peppermint Oil from? So far, I have only found regular essential oils.

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  10. I like the simplicity of the toothpaste recipe. I took it up or is that down a notch with just using baking soda. Oh and if people are looking for charcoal infused bristles I have some on GaiaGuy.com Cheers!

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Thank you for your comment! <3 -Lauren

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