Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Don't Forget Your Toothbrush!

The forgotten toothbrush

The forgotten toothbrush
(To enlarge cartoon, just click on it)

It was too late!

Whilst unpacking our bags at the weekend, Mr A and I realised that somewhere between Wales and Suffolk, our matching pair of toothbrushes had gone missing.

I'm not sure which is worse, the fact that we had lost them or revealing that they were a matching pair!

But I could have sworn I'd packed them.

I'm pretty convinced I did.

Perhaps they fell out of the holdall? Who knows?

But whatever has happened, one thing's for sure, in that wherever they've ended up they will be hanging around forever.

We've managed to get by for a couple of days while I've been busy pondering the future of our dental hygiene and taking the opportunity to give proper consideration to our replacements.

The problem I have is that I hate throwing away used plastic toothbrushes and I really don't like the idea of them being sent to landfill. It seems such a waste, just to sit there in the ground for eternity. I normally keep the old ones for cleaning tricky areas in the bathroom but there comes a time when a woman has all the old toothbrushes she needs.

So before heading off to the supermarket, I thought I would do some research!

I quickly decided that the natural option just wasn't for me. Using a twig to clean my toothy pegs is not my kind of thing.

There was another option of toothbrushes which come with replacement heads. I like this idea but it still means the replacement heads will be dumped in landfill when their time is up.

I also came across the Preserve toothbrush, which is made in the U.S. I loved this idea because the manufacturer, Recycline, takes recycling very seriously. The handle is made from recycled plastic such as yoghurt pots and the company also encourages customers to post back their old toothbrushes. These are then sent away to be made into "plastic lumber", which is used to make benches and decking. This seems a perfect cradle-to-cradle product and definitely gets a big thumbs up.

Oh decisions decisions!

I would have really loved to have bought the Preserve brush, but even though it can be purchased in the UK from shops such as the EthicalSuperstore, I didn't like the idea of it being shipped backwards and forwards to the States, just in the name of recycling. It would be different if we could recycle our toothbrushes here in the UK. For a country that gets slammed so much for its environmental policy, the U.S. seems to have come up with some innovative solutions way ahead of our own.

Anyway, desperately trying to avoid landfill products, I was pleased to discover another option...

...that wooden toothbrushes are now available in the UK!

Yep, you heard me right and I hope you haven't fallen off your chair with the news.

I managed to track down the elusive creatures on the Cebra website, which is an ethical and fairtrade online store. These particular items are made in Germany from sustainable sources.

They were the most expensive choice, but even so I decided that it was the best option for us!

So, having ordered some yesterday, including one for all the family of course, they promptly arrived today. You can't get better service than that! The best thing is, they came with very little packaging, simply a small piece of plastic covering the bristles.

So I am now in my element, with one less product to throw in the bin. Ah, it's the simple things in life that matter so much.

But why such determination to buy a wooden one?

Composting of course! When we've finished with them, we can simply pop them in the compost bin. Hopefully, the worms will munch on them (after they've softened a bit) and then poop them out into lovely fine compost.

One thing's for certain, when I'm mulching the garden this time next year, I definitely won't have forgotten my toothbrush.

(Thanks to the lovely Jo Beaufoix for sharing the Toonlet gadget)


Mrs Green said...

HA! great minds - I've been pondering the toothbrush conundrum as well. I remember getting a wooden toothbrush for dd when she was a babe, but they didn't come in adult sizes.

This is great - thank you for sharing your funky find and I LOVE the toonlet too - the pic of Almost Mr Average is decidedly life like LOL!

Have a good one,
Mrs G x

John Costigane said...

Hi Mrs A,

An excellent alternative for teeth everywhere. Germany does seem to produce greener products (eg card/foil wrapped chocolate). Do they make green toothpaste as well? The tube is another example of unavoidable waste.
The cartoon is a good addition as well.



Jane said...

I cannot tell you how delighted I am that you've found these and have shared that information, thank you so much! I've been looking for alternatives for months, and like you decided that shipping old toothbrushes across the Atlantic was a bit much and that there was a limit to the uses of an old plastic toothbrush. Wooden ones are ideal. I'm going to place an order at once.

David said...

What an excellent idea, John. Green toothpaste! I must look at once into bio degradable tubes. Sure going to be difficult to find but maybe I could come up with a refillable jar where you dip you brush into....

John Costigane said...

Hi again Mrs A,

Just bought 2 brushes from the site. This will reduce my quarterly miscellaneous waste. Well done, again.

David, best of luck with the toothpaste. Alternative recipes are imperfect, but a good one could be a best seller.



Jo Beaufoix said...

Wow those are cool. We have electric ones and I must say I am loathe to part with them, but I am tempted. Hmmmmmm...


Hi Mrs Green - I can recommend the wooden toothbrush. It feels so much more natural and comfortable than some of the hard plastic ones. Glad you loved the toonlet...yes Mr A does come over quite well. Unfortunately I just couldn't quite capture my hair xx ;-D

Hi John - You are right, Germany does produce some great green products. They seem to be decades ahead of us. Toothpaste tubes as just so annoying and wasteful...Please don't anyone laugh but I have switched to the pump dispenser and when I've got 24 of the blighters, I'm going to decorate them as chess pieces for the garden....It will be interesting to see how long that takes. Good luck with your new purchase and glad you like the cartoon ;-D

Hi Jane - thanks so much for stopping by and leaving the feedback. I am always pleased to know that if my mad actions help others. Do come by again. ;-D

Hi David - Love the idea and thanks for popping by? Are you the David I know? In fact I know four Davids, so even a simple Yes won't make me any the wiser ;-D

Hi Jo - Electric one...await over-dramatised gasp :-D. Hope you're using rechargable batteries. LOL xx

Mrs Green said...

Chess pieces OMG - ROFL!!! I can't wait to see those!

I can get bicarbonate of soda in paper bags from Suma, so I guess I could switch to that for teeth cleaning.

Is toothpaste like shampoo. Do we actually NEED it, or is it all a big con I wonder?

Mrs G x

john costigane said...

Hi Mrs A,

Complete Zero Waste is still a long way off due to the many rigidities in the current system (eg toothpaste containers, commodity packs etc). Manufacturers are slow to adapt and sustainable materials technology is in its infancy. I find it frustrating at times but change will occur, given time.
Our homes are temporary waste refuges in the meantime.



Hi Mrs Green - LOL, I've tried the bicarb approach, not plain mind but the one where it's disguised in toothpaste...not for me, neither is the option of doing without, not with my coffee intake x

John - you're definitely right...check out my latest post re what I got up to yesterday. Fascinating stuff and it's all going in the right direction. ;-D

Anonymous said...

This is an old post but I was Googling "wooden toothbrush" and found your blog.

I wanted to say that I've heard of something called "tooth soap" as an alternative to both toothpaste and baking soda. It tends to be recommended by the Weston A. Price folks as something that works a little better to get your teeth clean. I haven't tried it yet but I've seen it offered online and it seems to be packaged in glass jars as often as not.


Hi Anon - thanks for the tip about the tooth soap. I'll look out for that. Any other tips you have would be most welcome :-D

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