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Reducing Plastic Waste and Promoting Oral Health

A Vermont start-up company, Wood Brush, is taking on the problem of plastics in landfills and waterways, one toothbrush at a time.

BRISTOL, VT. After two years research and development, the Wood Brush Company is ready to begin production of high quality toothbrushes with a much reduced environmental impact. The first product will be a toothbrush call “The Natural.”

Michael F. Kane, a sustainability entrepreneur and Wood Brush’s founder, has worked with both the dental industry and Maple Land Mark, a Vermont-based wood toy manufacture, to develop the world’s best natural toothbrush.

Wood Brush will employ local workforce in Vermont, and will use local natural resources for 98% of the product. The toothbrush has a handle made from sugar maple and the bristles are BPA free.

The plastic toothbrush industry produces 3.5 billion toothbrushes annually. Dentists recommend individuals purchase a new toothbrush every three months. Following this recommendation, a household of four throws out sixteen toothbrushes every year.

Nearly none of these toothbrushes can be recycled because the handles and the bristles are not made of the same plastics. The result is that nearly all of them need to go to landfills. This is approximately 200 million pounds of plastic per year.

The problem is somewhat complicated by a need to accomplish two different things at once. One is to reduce the amount of plastic used, and the other is to maintain oral health.

By using hardwood for the handle, 98% of the plastic in a toothbrush is replace by a renewable, compostable material. Having it locally-sourced means that Wood Brush has much more control over the sustainability and quality of the materials than would be achievable using such imported materials as bamboo. The handles may have natural coatings or be just plain wood.

Wood Brush will continue to use a special, BPA-free, dental-grade nylon for bristles at present. Kane’s research found no material on the market that is superior to it for dental hygiene. He is, however, continuing research on delivering a vegetable-based fiber bristle, and has hopes of achieving that goal in the near future. With that, the toothbrushes would be 100% plastic free.

In a worst case for proper disposal, the Wood Brush toothbrush goes to the landfill, just as plastic ones do. Unlike the plastic toothbrushes, however, 98% of the Wood Brush toothbrush will decompose naturally.

The Wood Brush Company has created a Kickstarter campaign to raise capital for its initial manufacturing run. Please take a moment to visit our page at bit.ly/woodbrush-kickstarter. Any donation, small or large, will be greatly appreciated. Please spread the news of our Kickstarter campaign to friends & family! Also “LIKE US” on Facebook at facebook.com/woodbrushco.

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