The Eco Problem of a Toothbrush!!

One major focus of the Financial Conduct Authority is riskThey clearly know what definition they attribute to risk – but avoid including concerns over damage to the environment, exploitation or abuse.

It is not their concern but it is the concern of many of us who work within the advisory world, and increasingly the concern of our clients.

Now, I am not suggesting that we stop brushing our teeth but I am constantly reminded by clients, research organisations, the SRI investment community that every decision and every action we take impacts on the lives of others.

PinkToothbrushConsider the humble tooth brush.

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It’s mind boggling just how significant are the environmental impacts of items we use every single day. EcoPlanet Bamboo Group is working to provide an alternative fibre for major fibre industries, to provide a renewable and sustainable product for toilet paper, packaging and clothing.

These are all products currently using wood as their raw resource. But can bamboo also replace plastic in the many items we use and discard on a daily basis?

Toothbrushes are just a single example.

In the United States alone it is estimated that between 850 million, and over a billion toothbrushes, representing more than 50 million pounds of waste, are discarded and end up in landfills every single year.

These toothbrushes are made from a combination of plastic (made from crude oil) and rubber for the hand piece, nylon for the bristles, and a mix of plastic and cardboard for the packaging. Currently none of these items is biodegradable, therefore they remain in landfills indefinitely. Worse, they end up in our oceans and washed up on our beaches or consumed by marine life. If they are burnt, they release a combination of toxic and greenhouse gases.

Now consider that this is just in the United States.
What about Europe, China, Brazil, India and so on…

So why aren’t the major companies such as Colgate, Oral B, Crest, Sonicare etc looking for alternatives? Sustainably produced bamboo has the potential to be one part of the solution.

Bamboo fibre can be used to completely replace the plastic used for toothbrush handles, while pulped and combined with other waste fibres, a sustainable packaging product can be made. While this doesn’t address the environmentally unfriendly, non degradable nylon bristles, it would represent a major reduction in the environmental footprint of these companies, and in the footprint of millions of consumers daily.

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