Brush Them Suckers Clean

by Rachel Gertz

Dirty Ole' Toothbrush, Tinney on Flickr
Photo credit to tinney on Flickr.

I went on a mission to find a sustainable toothbrush tonight. Hah! Talk about an impossible safari. It was like looking for house cats on Kilimanjaro. 

I never put a lot of thought into my toothbrushes in the past, but as I was brushing my pearlies this morning, I felt the plastic bristles tickle my brain. Think of all those wasted toothbrushes in landfills, it said. Think of the dirty plastic toothbrush towers.

And I thought about them.

There’s a shit ton of disgusting old toothbrushes laying forlornly in landfills. Just sitting there covered in spit, bacteria, and poop. Because we all know we use old toothbrushes to clean the toilet before tossing them. And some people use poop in convoluted revenge schemes. Anyways…

There are a ton of ‘environmentally friendly’ toothbrushes out there, by the way: 

  • Radius Weird handle (not for lefties) and made from recycled dollar bills and flax. Replaceable non-recyclable heads. Meh. Martha Stewart’s pick.
  • Preserve Made of recycled yogurt containers. Has a take back program for your old brushes. Still plastic, still ends up in a dump somewhere, I swear.
  • Environmental Toothbrush (great name) Bamboo toothbrush with biodegradable bristles. Still gotta replace them every eight months and toss the old ones. They’ll take time to break down. Not cheap!

And here’s a full review of these toothbrushes if you’re interested. 

The PROBLEM with the above mentioned choices is obvious: they’re all either made of plastic, or you have to throw part or all of them out at some point and they take years to break down. Oh, and they’ll cost you an ugly penny. In a perfect world, we’d all just chew on neem like ancient Indians and we’d only have to throw out a soppy twig once in a while. 

So when did all this dental dabbing begin? Apparently, mass produced toothbrushes started showing up in droves in the late 1700s, but people didn’t start brushing their teeth routinely until post WW II. Eewww. If you want the full toothbrush story, you can have it.

The point is, we need something better. In over 300 years, the best we could come up with is some petro plastic handle with nylon bristles and blue tongue scraper that wears out after three months. I wouldn’t brush my cat’s teeth with that. Actually, I would… there’s a weird peanut butter story in there that I’m going to leave alone.

We need something innovative, like young John Peters’ Porcelain Neem Toothbrush. John is 23 years old. He’s created a sustainable toothbrush that uses long lasting, durable materials and biodegradable bristles. You keep the toothbrush, the neem fibres disappear. It’s genius.

And it’s not for effing sale! 

Hog bristles anyone?

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