Bamboo Toothbrushes

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:

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.

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 oil2 1/2 tablespoons baking soda25-30 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.

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Why I Became a Diva Cup Diva

Guest Post by Katherine Kartis

I am a newly converted Diva cup diva. I refuse to use tampons. Period (pun intended!) It all began a few months ago when I was shopping at Whole Foods in the toiletries aisle with a girlfriend. While I consider myself to be a naturalist, this particular friend takes the all-natural movement to a new level and makes her own lotions, potions and homeopathic medicine. She told me she only uses the diva cup. My initial reaction was, “What about organic tampons?” She explained how tampons absorb the natural fluids and bacterias that the vagina produces to stay clean and healthy. I did some research and found this was true.

For some reason it occurred to me only recently how hypocritical of me it was to abide by an all-natural philosophy in some aspects of my life, like the food I eat and the soap I use, and not others. It seems obvious in hindsight that we women should of course treat our every part of our body with the same all-natural respect that we do our hair, skin, nails and digestive tracts!

For the past decade I’ve swore by Tampax pearl tampons by day and the cheapest drugstore brand-name pads brand by night. My only concerns at the time were convenience and comfort. I never took into consideration the detrimental effects that the toxic chemicals in commercial feminine hygiene products have on my body and the environment.

Organic, chlorine-free tampons are of course better than the chemically bleached ones, but tampons are still not an optimal choice because of the health side effects mentioned above. Commercial pads and tampons may seem harmless, but they’re made from an array of toxic chemicals that are not even listed on the packaging. These toxins include chlorine, polypropylene, polyethylene film, rayon, polyester, and several other ingredients that have no place inside our bodies. Did you know that if you’re wearing non-organic tampons and pads that you’re essentially inserting cotton that has been sprayed by pesticides and herbicides in your body?

My friends who know about my Diva Cup advocacy may think I’m nuts, but I know I’ve made one of the best health decisions by switching to the Diva Cup. Not only am is the biodegradable silicone insert better for the environment and my body, but I’m also saving tens of thousands of dollars over a lifetime by not purchasing tampons. The Diva Cup is a one-time $40 investment that lasts years if cleaned and maintained properly.

I live by the motto “collect, don’t absorb.” The Diva Cup looks daunting, and I will not lie; it took me several periods to familiarize myself proper insertion and removal. However, think of the time you will spend learning how to insert and remove it properly as one of the best investments for your health. Although it’s recommended you remove it after several hours (every body type and flow is different), hypothetically if you left it in for “too long” nothing toxic would happen to your body. Gravity will cause the Diva Cup to come out naturally from the weight of the excess blood it has collected. Another cool perk: if inserted correctly, which is easy to do with patience and by following the instructions, it’s impossible to leak. I’ve worn mine to bed before with no qualms, but if I don’t feel like wearing it I switch to an organic pad.

Switch to the Diva Cup and your body, bank account and the environment will thank you.

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Zero Waste Travel Kit


Traveling makes me think of the section in the pharmacy filled with mini-versions of conventional hygiene products at escalated prices. When I used to use them, I would settle for a shampoo that I didn’t really like, a deodorant that I would inevitably toss or forget about, and some other tiny supplies that would just be thrown out after my week of travel was up. Then I would buy them again for my next trip.

So much waste.

By reusing some containers you probably already have at your home, you can skip the travel section of your pharmacy altogether and make a travel kit full of the products you use everyday- absolutely free.

Here is how I packed my kit:
Essentials:

  • Sustainable Toothbrush
  • Homemade Tooth Powder that I put in an old skincare jar
  • A vintage Soap Container to protect my soap (If you already have one, don’t buy a new one! Try to find one on Craigslist, from a local Etsy vendor, or at your local thrift store)
  • A bulk-unpackaged Organic Shampoo bar that I use everyday (no need to buy a new one-I use the one that I have in my shower) – I also use this as body soap when I travel
  • Bulk Conditioner in a small jar
  • Homemade Body and Face Cream
  • Homemade Deodorant 
  • Glasses
  • Contact Case
    • I do not normally pack contact solution with me as my entire family wears contacts and I always know I can borrow theirs. In the event that I am flying, I buy a travel sized contact solution. Otherwise, I bring my full sized solution. Contact solution is the one thing that I still purchase instead of making as I can recycle the container, and want to ensure that my eyes are protected.
  • Reusable Razor (not shown) I would bring this in my toiletries case if I am not flying- otherwise I would purchase a new blade at my destination. I do not check luggage, otherwise you could check your razor blade.

Secondary:

  • Organic Tea Tree Oil- flying, changes in eating habits, and alcohol can cause blemishes which I like to keep at bay using a dab of tea tree oil
  • Aspirin/Antacid – when I travel, my eating and sleeping patterns change which can cause upset stomach or headaches- I like to be prepared for this by bringing these along
  • A handkerchief- I bring this along to serve a variety of purposes, to use as a napkin, to wrap my toothbrush in if it is wet, or in place of tissues

I put all of these items in the same toiletries case that has been in my family for years. There is absolutely no need to buy any type of travel case as this works perfectly! If you need one, you could use a makeup bag, a collapsable lunch box, or a large pencil case. You might also be able to find a reusable bag at your local thrift store.

Safe Travels!

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Zero Waste Toothpaste


I once told my boyfriend that I would never brush my teeth with baking soda like he did, and went so far as to scoff at his “unhygienic” ways. I guess the alien idea of being clean without using a packaged product with miscellaneous ingredients was too farfetched and implausable for me at the time.

But here I am. Less than two years later, making my own toothpaste out of baking soda and writing about how much I love it.

My teeth have never felt so clean.

Sure, you have to get over the saltiness of the baking soda, get into using a spoon instead of a tube, and you might miss the frothing and bubbling of commercial toothpaste, but I think of it this way: There was a time when we were trained to tolerate the stinging minty paste that we all grew up with, the one that burned because it was “working.” That burning became normal – I was taught to believe that it was what clean felt like. Not because it was super clean, but because that is what my family and my authority figures said. I later realized that my aversion to brushing with baking soda wasn’t because it doesn’t work, it was because it didn’t align with how I was raised to view cleanliness.

Transitioning to a Zero Waste lifestyle has really been as simple as understanding why I believe the things I do and retraining myself to form new habits and make simple changes to my daily ritual. It has not added hardship or strife or inconvenience at all. It’s just different. Different has been great. By challenging my preconceptions about what clean means, how I should clean, and what I need to achieve “cleanliness”, I feel more immaculate than I ever did before.


Zero Waste Toothpaste Recipe:
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda
25-30 drops Organic food grade peppermint essential oil

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.

Here is a great resource on why baking soda is awesome. It addressees effectiveness pertaining to using baking soda as a toothpaste.

Also, if you would like to watch me make Zero Waste toothpaste, check out this video!

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Zero Waste Dental Hygiene

I recently saw an advertisement that said there are 4.7 billion plastic toothbrushes produced annually with each brush lasting about 1000 years. I saw a second piece, which said that over 80 million pounds of toothbrushes are thrown into North American landfills each year. Please note, while I could not track down the reviewed sources of these statements and can not vouch for their accuracy, it definitely makes me think about waste and what we consider it to be.

I have always used a toothbrush, one of those things that you are told to keep for a couple of months and then throw out and replace with a new one, and I most likely always will. I am 22 years old, have used about 6 toothbrushes per year, and started my Zero Waste journey at 21 (I stopped using plastic toothbrushes), which means I have contributed almost 130 pieces of seemingly never degrading plastic waste JUST to brush my teeth. This number is probably much higher if I consider any time I forgot a toothbrush and had to buy a new one, or bought a brush that was travel sized and used it for about a week. This is not even mentioning the toothpaste tubes!! The fact of it is, brushing your teeth produces a LOT of non-recyclable waste.

So we are doomed and have to use plastic toothbrushes forever. Right? Nope! I said above that I stopped using plastic toothbrushes. YES! About one year ago I invested in my first compostable toothbrush (there are many different brands). Not only are many of them biodegradable, sustainable, and renewable, their packaging is too! (I haven’t been able to find a solution to the nylon bristles). Wishing for totally compostable boar hair toothbrush bristles. Sigh. Well, here are some brands I have tested out…

They look sooooo much nicer than plastic toothbrushes! When you are done you can use them for a multitude of things! Here is one of mine being used to keep my avocado tree standing tall!

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