NATIONAL REPORT—Each year, according to WooBamboo, billions of plastic toothbrushes end up in landfills or the oceans. Many of those toothbrushes originate in hotels—whether given to guests individually, in amenity packs, or sold in a retail shop. The plastic toothbrushes join the bottles, straws, stir sticks, utensils and other items that complicate the plastic waste problem currently getting worse around the planet. Fortunately for hoteliers, eco-friendlier alternatives to the plastic toothbrush are now available—at a higher price point than plastic, yes—but they are one more valuable way to convey your property’s concern for the environment.
No alternative to the plastic toothbrush is perfect but several companies are using materials such as bamboo or even recycled dollar bills in the construction of their toothbrushes. WooBamboo toothbrushes are made with the same type of bamboo that cutting boards are made from: moso. It’s organically grown in the bamboo-rich mountains of China and crafted in a family-owned workshop. Moso bamboo is naturally anti-microbial. The bristles are made from Dupont Tynex nylon and are recyclable. The toothbrushes are packaged in recycled and recyclable materials.
Christopher Fous, Co-founder, CEO, Creative Director, WooBamboo, says his company was founded on Earth Day in 2013. WooBamboo now sells 10,000 toothbrushes a day that are available in 14,000 stores worldwide. WooBamboo is just beginning to pursue lodging business; its toothbrushes can be found in 1 Hotels, for example.
“Our overall goal is to get people switching,” Fous says. “We stand for sustainability and positive change.”
‘A Marketing & Branding Instrument’
WooBamboo can etch a hotel’s name or other message on a toothbrush handle. “It is a marketing and branding instrument,” Fous adds. “Our packaging can be customized. Everything you give to a guest should be a symbol of what you stand for. You don’t have to sacrifice quality or part of the guest experience.”
Another company making bamboo toothbrushes is Brush with Bamboo. Every component is plant-based: bristles, handle, wrapper, and box. Handles are made with bamboo and bristles are made from 62 percent castor bean oil and 38 percent nylon. Like WooBamboo, Brush with Bamboo gets its bamboo from China.
Startup Boie USA makes a toothbrush with a replaceable head. The head and handle are both made from recyclable plastic and the bristles are made of a rubber-like material called thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). TPE combines the properties of rubber (soft and pliable) with the benefits of thermoplastic. The result is a flexible and recyclable material. The company runs an in-house return and recycle program for its toothbrushes and replacement heads.
Preserve toothbrushes have handles created with recycled plastic (yogurt cups) and bristles made from nylon. The toothbrush is completely recyclable through Preserve’s mail-in recycling program.
Bogobrush makes its brushes from compostable, recyclable bioplastic that includes flax particles. The company has a buy one, give one policy whereby those in need are given a toothbrush for each one purchased.
Radius makes toothbrushes from repurposed and recycled materials like wood, paper and even recycled dollar bills. The bristles are made from vegetable-based nylon, meaning that the toothbrushes are entirely free from petroleum. The toothbrushes include replaceable heads.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.