Bamboo-booster: Stirling student selling toothbrushes for a better world

6 mins read

Think of an activity you religiously engage in every day – optimally twice a day. It has an amusing tendency to distort conversations, effectively removes garlic-breath and usually involves a mirror. An activity that makes you grimace, gurgle and grin. Yes, you guessed it, we’re talking the scrubbing of one’s fangs, or in plan English: toothbrushing.

Credit: LillyCantabile from Pixabay 

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For some, it is seen as a mundane but necessary part of being a presentable person. For others, this gum-rubbing, tongue-wobbling activity is the pinnacle of their day: a priceless moment of pure pleasure. Whichever category you find yourself in, you will have spent a decent chunk of your life brushing your teeth come old age. More specifically, 1,983.16 hours.

According to the Oral Health Foundation, an average person in the UK who brushes their teeth for two minutes twice a day over the course of their life will have spent slightly more than 82 of those days with a toothbrush in their hand. In that same time you could travel back and forth to the moon 27.3 times. Or watch all 236 episodes of Friends on repeat 22.9 times. Or simply veg out and live Bruno Mars’ Lazy Song-day on repeat, for 3 full months.

Clearly, then, toothbrushing consumes plenty of our time. Recollecting any toothache, cavity or exceptionally pungent morning breath you’ve ever experienced, the importance of upholding one’s dental hygiene grows even more prominent.

Speaking to Nela Cadiñanos, public relations manager at We Are One (WAO), a student-run, non-profit organisation, she stresses the significance of the seemingly insignificant in this: the impact of the toothbrush you use.

Nela Cadiñanos is a third-year International Management and French student. Credit: Aine Donnellan

“The thought behind WAO is to unify people. Our focus is on bringing about a greener, more peaceful future through various creative projects.”

One such endeavour, Nela explains, is the sales and distribution of bamboo-toothbrushes, packaged in fully compostable material.

Fact: If we displayed the toothbrushes thrown away in the United States in a year, they would wrap around the Earth four times.

“Although it may seem silly, or insignificant, these tiny choices we do in our daily life can and does have an impact on the world around us,” says Nela.

An estimated 3.6 billion plastic toothbrushes are used worldwide every year, out of which roughly 80 per cent end up in the sea. And considering that each of these brushes takes up to a thousand years to decompose, that fact gets even scarier.

Credit: LillyCantabile from Pixabay 

“It’s quite incredible, when you think about it, the power we hold as consumers. Choosing environmentally friendly, ethical products over the opposite creates an ever-growing market for it,” says Nela, and she points out that parts of the profits from WAO’s toothbrushes goes back into the community projects they conduct.

Even the bristles on these brushes are biodegradable. This technically means you can chuck it out your window if you so wish – with a squeeky-clean conscious and even cleaner teeth.

“I would say they’re super soft, but really good at doing their job! Like they make your mouth feel super clean and amazing, really no other toothbrush for me now,” says Heather Dalgleish, one of WAO’s first customers in Stirling.

Credit: LillyCantabile from Pixabay 

Together with the rest of her team at WAO, Nela hopes to spread the word about these virtuous dental polishers and their other projects loud and wide. The aim is to reduce plastic waste, fund future projects and promote the ethical and sustainable production of the bamboo-brushes.

So far, the community of over 800 people from more than 15 countries, have organized global tree plantations, employed underprivileged women to upcycle pre-loved jeans and have been distributing food to daily wage labourers in India since March, when lockdown restrictions took hold.

What the future holds for WAO, is up to us all to decide, says Nela.

“The beauty of partaking in a project like this is that your voice can truly be heard and you can be part of making a positive change in the world,” she says, and asks anyone interested in joining to head to their Facebook-page for more information.

With the skill of a sales woman who knows her trade, she points once more to the all-round benefits of her beloved brushes.

“Not only do these make it more fun to brush your teeth, you’re literally doing a good deed to the planet and its inhabitants by purchasing it – effectively turning you into a superhero,” she says with a wink.

Find Nela to purchase her brushes here, read more about WAO here and find out more about alternatives to plastic toothbrushes here.

Feature image credit: Aine Donnellan

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