Don't Buy Colgate or Oral B, Instead Try...

by - Thursday, June 22, 2017

This blog series "Don't Buy... Instead Try..." intends to point out some of the most egregiously unethical, wasteful, and environmentally ridiculous companies out there. Instead of dwelling on their considerable awfulness, the series will focus on the other options you have for purchasing.

Every purchase we make is a vote for the kind of world we want. 
Every single purchase is political.
 Every single purchase has ethical ramifications, and 
every single purchase should be approached with a spirit of stewardship. 

We can change the world by refusing to fund extreme greed, the mistreatment of other human beings, and the trashing of the environment. We need to stay aware of the many choices available to us. Will we get it right every time? No. But if we all make little changes, we can send companies a new message, that consumers will show up if they do the right thing. 

bad toothbrushes in the toothbrush aisle
from affilliate
Oh toothbrushes- we need them, we use them daily (hopefully), and we are gifted them by medical professionals. Most are also tremendously awful for the environment and for our country.

All mainstream (and most the drug store generic) toothbrushes are made of fresh plastic from China. This may not seem like a big deal, but think about the controversies about lead in plastic toys from years ago- toys have more regulations going for them than toothbrushes. So you put tons of hormone-shifting chemical into your mouth daily. Gross.

 This also means we waste tons of fossil fuels moving these tiny plastic brushes halfway around the world AND they come wrapped in plastic, so double the waste. It's something we all buy, and it sucks. The toothbrush themselves are often found in beach clean ups and other plastic messes, because we all create so much waste with them.

You can recycle or terracycle some (read more here), but that doesn't solve the problem that those little plastic sticks are traveling an awful long way. Plus, they aren't good for America.

Colgate is a mega company, selling tons of products in 200 countries, that started in New York City in 1806. Despite it's long connection to the city (and its headquarters still there), the company has not remained particularly loyal to the American worker, and the majority of the products are made overseas. It also has done a number of mass layoffs, like one in 2012 where 2,000+ workers were given the cut. The company has a mixed record in terms of ethics and the environment- their toothpaste has been cited for polluting water and poisoning wildlife. They are known for being good employers in the United States, but take that with a grain of salt since that is a small percentage of their employees.

Oral-B is much younger, started in 1950, and it is owned by the Gillette group. None of their brushes are made in the States anymore either.

It's recommended that you replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months. If you are on the conservative end, that is 3 a year. For 75 years, that is 225 toothbrushes. Per person. If you have a family of four, that is 900 big pieces of plastic headed to landfills and the water. Put another way- 4.7 billion plastic toothbrushes go into landfills per year. Why? There have to be better options.

If you don't care about the environment, care about yourself. Toothbrushes don't have much regulation at ALL in what chemicals go with him. BPA and other toxic chemicals go into these things you put in your mouth everyday.

So what do you buy instead? Good news! You have so many great options!

don't buy colgate or oral b instead try bamboo toothbrushes
from Tiny Yellow Bungalow
1. Bamboo toothbrushes- Tiny Yellow Bungalow (one of my favorite online stores) sells bamboo toothbrushes, but you can also get them from Amazon in bulk to save money (bmbu is another option, but they are made in China). These materials are most certainly better for your mouth (and the Earth), and often come in biodegradable packaging. It's a big investment, but like a healthier diet, it could reap some seriously positive results.

don't buy colgate or oral b instead try preserve recycled toothbrushes
Preserve from Amazon
2. Preserve Recycled Toothbrushes- Preserve makes body care products (including razors and toothbrushes) out of recycled plastic in the USA.  Their toothbrushes are made out of recycled yogurt cups (so foodsafe plastic and way better than a regular toothbrush). Bought in bulk, they are also actually cheaper than the overly fussy ones they sell in drug stores. We use Preserve toothbrushes in our house, and they have worked out perfectly. I don't understand why every toothbrush at the bare minimum isn't recycled.

don't buy colgate or oral b instead try radius toothbrushes
from Radius Toothbrushes
3. Radius Toothbrushes- Again, not perfect, but these Radius toothbrushes have recycled handles and then you buy new heads. This cuts down on 90% of the waste created by tossing away all those toothbrushes. This at least cuts things down by making the majority of the brush reusable for probably the rest of your life. They have a travel brush also made in the USA as well, so this might be a perfect option for your family.

4. Dr. Du-More's Toothbrush- These Dr. Dumore brushes are made out of partially biodegradable pieces in the United States. They also have recycled plastic packaging. Looks great to me, and one of the reviews is from a dental hygienist.

don't buy colgate or oral-b try eco-friendly toothbrushes like Preserve or bamboo

Want more shopping ideas? Check out the Giant List of Shopping Lists for more ideas of how you can improve the world with some small switches!

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