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August 24, 2013

Brush With Bamboo is my new favorite toothbrush

 

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After reading my blog, and especially the review of several different eco-friendly toothbrushes, Rohit Kumar and his friend Rohit Sahdev were inspired to create the perfect plastic-free toothbrush. While they haven’t yet found a way to create a brush that is completely plastic-free, they’re getting close. Their company is called Brush With Bamboo, and I’ve really been enjoying using the various toothbrush incarnations they’ve developed over the past year and observing the Rohits’ efforts to create a brush whose materials and packaging are more and more sustainable.  I gave Ro K. lots of feedback and suggestions, and he listened and took action.  THAT is the kind of person/company I want to support!

The Handle

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I love the curved handle on the brush as well as the length. The one in the picture on the right is the earliest version. It’s more curved. But to achieve that effect, it had to be made out of several pieces of bamboo bonded together. Rohit Kumar says that he couldn’t get a guarantee that the adhesive was plastic-free and non-toxic, so in the second version, he opted for a brush that is slightly less curved and a bit thinner but made from one solid piece of bamboo. But compared to the handle of the Environmental Toothbrush that I reviewed in my previous post, it’s much more comfortable to hold and is longer as well.

When considering other bamboo toothbrushes or other bamboo products for that matter, consider the shape and size. If they are solid and round or thick, they are probably several pieces held together with some kind of glue. Just something to keep in mind as other toothbrushes come on the market.

Bristles

The bristles, too, are curved, which is really nice compared to that other brush. The bristles, however, are not plastic-free. They are made of nylon. So far, no one has been able to come up with bristles that are both plastic- and animal-free.  Rohit’s original brush included bamboo and tea fibers combined with the nylon, but he received feedback that the bristles wore out too soon, so in version 2 he eliminated those fibers.  I would love someone to come up with the perfect natural toothbrush bristle fibers. Please keep trying!

The Packaging

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The box is made of recycled paper, and does not contain any glue. It’s held together by tabs instead of adhesive. Rohit says that’s a real concern when choosing cardboard boxes. The box also has empty window cutouts instead of plastic windows.

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Inside the box, the brush is wrapped in a corn-based compostable plastic wrapper. Ro even sent me the certification to prove it.

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I expressed my concern about the wrapper to Ro. I’m not a big fan of these corn-based plastics because growing corn has a huge environmental impact and most of it is GMO.  Also, these plastics require an industrial composting facility to break down.

I suggested using a cellulose wrapper instead, and Ro has told me he has sourced such a wrapper and will try it in the next iteration of the brush.  He even mentions it in the FAQ on his website.

The Brush with Bamboo website also has information about proper disposal of the toothbrush once it wears out (including clever ways to reuse the handle) and other environmental information.

Made in China

Yes, these toothbrushes are made in China. So are the Environmental Toothbrushes. Bamboo grows like crazy in China. Ro has been there to visit the facility where the toothbrushes are made. He’s confident the conditions are good because he’s seen it with his own eyes and posted pictures of the facility and management on the website. Check out the photos of the visit and descriptions of seeking out more sustainable packaging.

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Clean Planetware

Developing sustainable products runs in the family. Ro’s dad sells a line of reusable stainless steel food containers and dinnerware called Clean Planetware to encourage people to avoid disposable restaurant packaging.

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09/28/2013 UPDATE: Brush with Bamboo is offering a DISCOUNT to My Plastic-Free Life readers. Use discount code ‘myplasticfreelife’ (needs to be lowercase) for 15% OFF + Free Shipping on anything they sell.



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29 comments
FerrisDuvall
FerrisDuvall

Why can't these be made with the biodegradable nylon bristles like the Environmental Toothbrush? I find it very bothersome to have to remove bristles and send them for recycling.

AneCristi
AneCristi

Hi I loved it! But I have a question: Is the shipping from China to the house of the person (in my case Brazil) sustainable? I want to say, maybe the fuel spended are so that is better to buy plastic brush in a local shop? It is a real concern for me, I don't know what impacts the environment most. I get this thought every time I think of buying somthing by internet. If you can help me I'll be glad. Thank you!

AaronKeohane
AaronKeohane

I love how candid you are about all the different material and processes that go into making the brush. This is what sets you guys apart from other companies making bamboo brushes who would never mention something such as the adhesive used to bind the bamboo together. Thanks so much for the work you guys are doing! Just bought a 4 pack =)

Linda LaRue
Linda LaRue

Yay! No boar bristles. Thanks for the link.

Linda LaRue
Linda LaRue

Here's hoping the bristles are plant-based and not boar hair. Off to follow the link....

Kristi Hyllen
Kristi Hyllen

Perfect timing! I was just about to buy some plastic toothbrushes!

Anne Matthews
Anne Matthews

Bamboo grows like crazy in most warm climates we had bamboo in Georgia.

Brush with Bamboo
Brush with Bamboo

Actually Barbara, since you've already checked out. I just issued you a refund for $3 (the amount you would have been discounted). So you're good to go!

Brush with Bamboo
Brush with Bamboo

Hi there. There is a a bright yellow box on the View Cart page that says 'Apply Coupon'. I just checked and it is working. If you still have trouble please call us directly at (909) 265-4ECO and we will take care of it :)

Suzanne Titus
Suzanne Titus

This is awesome. Recently went to the Food and Hospitality and plates, to go containers, and flat ware all from Bamboo. Hopefully the change will happen soon, just like everything price is always high in the beginning.

Barbara Watts
Barbara Watts

I just bought a 4 pack, but there was no place to enter a discount code.

Jessy V Mills
Jessy V Mills

i am highly annoyed that i just purchased over $60 worth of bamboo tootbrushes from a different brand a few days ago. whyyyyyyyy *shakes fist*

lmdcc
lmdcc

I love this I'm about to order a set of these! One thought: Might there be a way to reduce waste (and cost to consumers) even further by making the head replaceable? You could perhaps make it 'click' into place like a puzzle piece so it doesn't come apart by brushing. Then you'd only have to dispose/compost of a piece of wood that is only and inch or an inch and a half. That, along with the development of plastic-free bristles, would make me a fan for life!

Eve Stavros
Eve Stavros

So excited about this, I'm relegating my unused old dentist giveaways to my travel kit (where they will last for years) and hopping right over to the website to order a pack.  And the 4-pack is on sale right now, with free shipping as well!  Gosh, I love a plastic-free bargain!!!

Hannah Ransom
Hannah Ransom

I bought this toothbrush most recently, as well. I like it, but I'd actually love if they offered animal hair bristles.. Any chance that might happen?! 

Right now the only totally natural ones I can get are from life without plastic, which look nice, but I can get this toothbrush at my local co-op. 


So, if you can get a natural options like the pig hairs or even having the option of what you used to use that some people complained about I'd absolutely LOVE that. 


Thanks for being so active in trying to create a great product.

Eco novice
Eco novice

Love this! So cool how they are continually trying to improve the design and materials with feedback from customers. An awesome model for future businesses.

jonnie
jonnie

I have the earlier iteration with the mixed bristles, and find that is one of the major "likes". I would much prefer a shorter bristle lifespan than going back to all nylon/plastic!

eascello
eascello

This is great!!  Glad to see another alternative to plastic!

Kenji Yamada
Kenji Yamada

Awesome, this is the kind of business I want to support!

Maybe some kind of contest could be held to find an alternative material for toothbrush bristles meeting a certain set of criteria.  Wikipedia says they used to be made from animal hairs until plastic ones became common.  Has Ro talked to any materials science people?

PearlsPage
PearlsPage

@AneCristi  

Hi Ane, 


I just want to say that currently most brands of toothbrushes wether plastic or bamboo are all made in China. Even if you buy them at your local store there were probably shipped from China. At least when you throw them away they will disappear if they are made of bamboo.

PearlsPage
PearlsPage

you will be brushing for many years to come ;) remember BrushwithBamboo.com

Ro Kumar
Ro Kumar

@jonnie Hi Jonnie. Yes we had many people that liked the first iteration. But quite a large number (maybe up to 20%) that had an issue with the bristles giving out way too quickly on them. So we were convinced that we had to do something. Our new toothbrush is really the best toothbrush I've ever used - and many of our customers are echoing this. I hope you'll stick with us.

jonnie
jonnie

-I should add, though,  that this toothbrush is fabulous and brilliantly conceived!

Ro Kumar
Ro Kumar

@Kenji Yamada Hi Kenji - Yes I have put some feelers out to scientists and product developers. It is theoretically possible to make an all plant-based bristle polymer. It would take significant time and investment. I hope that our company can be a part of this push. If the demand is there, the investment will be put into the research, I'm sure.

Thank you for the support!

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