Before having children, I never gave much thought to my toothbrushes. I'd use the ones I copped for free at the dentist or “borrowed” from my in-laws medicine cabinet, and use them for way longer than the recommended three months. (Ew.) However, as my daughter approached her first birthday and our pediatrician recommended that she start brushing her teeth, I was confronted with the need to buy new toothbrushes with standard hygienic regularity — and found that every. Single. Toothbrush in my immediate purview was made from plastic.
Now is a good time to mention that I am, shamefully, no environmental saint. While I try to be mindful of my consumption habits, modern-day parenting — with its preponderance of disposable diapers and constant wardrobe overhauls — is fraught with high-impact habits, and the quarterly purchase of a miniature Elmo-emblazoned plastic wand could seem insignificant when compared to the excessive waste created by, for example, diapering. However — as I hypocritically hit Amazon’s “Buy It Now” on yet another enormous box of Pampers without giving it a second thought — the toothbrush thing rankled me. I’m already creating so much non-biodegradable trash; did I really have to add another piece to the pile?
In my search for a non-plastic alternative for my daughter’s tiny teeth, I stumbled across Pink Moon, a community-driven beauty and wellness retailer that offers a slew of self-care products for women at every stage of life. There, nestled among the Species by the Thousands aromatherapy oils and Morihata organic cotton washcloths was a bamboo toothbrush from Pink Moon’s in-house label — along with a pint-sized, rainbow-bristled option designed for toddler chompers.
According to Pink Moon’s blog, the brand’s toothbrushes are made from moso bamboo, a highly renewable sub-type of the woodsy shoot with a growth rate that Nature called “explosive” in a 2016 report. Thanks to its inherent anti-microbial properties, the brand explains, moso bamboo can “grow in a wide range of climates without the use of pesticides and fertilizers,” and the toothbrush can be composted by simply trimming off the bristles and adding it to your home or community compost pile. “I wanted to create a daily essential that is friendly to the planet and wildlife, [and our toothbrush] is made from ethically sourced, 100% biodegradable, fast-growing bamboo and castor bean-oil nylon bristles,” Pink Moon founder Lin Chen tells Refinery29. “Over 10 billion plastic toothbrushes are disposed of every year, and they can take over 400 years to decompose in a landfill.”
Upon receiving samples of the adult and child-sized toothbrushes from the brand for testing purposes, I excitedly opened the logo-free kraft paper box that housed the brushes and handed the smaller one to my daughter. “Dootbrush!” she exclaimed. She now uses it every night — or at least on the nights that I’m able to convince her that brushing her teeth will be the funnest possible activity. I use mine, too, and find that I don’t mind the sensation of plastic at all — the bamboo brush looks, feels, and handles just like the drugstore versions I’ve always used, and so far it’s holding up just as well. (I’ve been using it for about three weeks.) I’m definitely, definitely not saving the world at all with this lower-impact purchase, but I do see it as a small, symbolic step towards conscious consumption.
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