What is The Good Brush Company?
We sell bamboo toothbrushes as an eco-friendly alternative to using a plastic toothbrush, and our mission is to help reduce plastic waste one toothbrush at a time. The toothbrushes are made with a 100 percent biodegradable bamboo handle, meaning that they won’t fill up landfill sites – you can even put them straight on your compost heap. All our bristles are recyclable too, so we ask our customers to remove the bristles when they change their brush and pop them in their recycling bin. You can buy our brushes as a one-off or as part of a subscription package, and we also do gift subscriptions which are very popular.
What inspired you to set up the business?
My children. We were on holiday in Greece a couple of years ago and we watched a documentary called Plastic Ocean. The film was fantastic but really hard to watch because it drove home the reality of the world’s plastic problem. After seeing it, we started to look at ways that we could reduce our plastic consumption as a family. I used to always buy a new toothbrush when I went on holiday and throw it away afterwards, but after seeing the documentary I realised that I was adding to the pollution, which made me think about bio-degradable alternatives.
It was only when I started to research plastic toothbrushes that I realised the sheer scale of the problem. We tend to think of buying and using a toothbrush as a simple, mindless task. All we have to do is pick up a brush, take it home, and put it to good use. But while this simple routine is great for our teeth, it’s bad news for our environment. Every year we produce over four billion plastic toothbrushes, most of which will end up in landfill or the sea. To put that number into perspective, if you put one year’s worth of toothbrushes end-to-end, they would circle the earth 18.5 times, or reach to the moon and back, every single year. And it’s a growing problem.
What makes your toothbrushes so unique?
Not only has our business has been founded on the principle of reducing plastic waste, but whilst we were planning the business a friend of ours, who works in dentistry, told us that children's dental health in the UK is significantly worsening. We are seeing a rise in cavities, fillings and shockingly, extractions. Yes, diets have changed, but we are also witnessing many people living in poverty and not being given the basics to keep their teeth clean. Naturally, putting food on the table is a priority over buying toiletries.
We decided that we had to make Good Brush a company that worked on a global, national and local scale. This is what makes us unique. We donate toothbrushes to people in need in the UK. With every brush you buy, we donate one via food banks or breakfast clubs as a dental charity and we’ve recently partnered with Dentaid, whose team of volunteers will deliver our bamboo toothbrushes to schools and community centres across the UK, as well as providing them to the homeless via Dentaid’s mobile dental unit.
Do the toothbrushes last as long as their plastic alternatives?
Yes – in fact, I keep my old brushes for even longer and use them for cleaning. We do recommend that you change your toothbrush at least every three months, and our customers have the option to sign up for regular deliveries to remind them to do this.
In terms of the bristles, discussing more eco-alternatives with a dentist, we made a conscious decision to use high-grade nylon to ensure that your teeth get the best possible clean. Plus, it was imperative that the bristles were hard-wearing, wouldn’t degrade quickly and were hygienic. One day, we hope to be able to introduce a bristle that is as hygienic as nylon, but that is also bio-degradable.
What’s so bad about plastic brushes?
Traditional plastic tooth brushes are made of polypropylene which means that they never truly break down, instead they start to shed microplastics and toxic chemicals. They remain in soil and seawater for hundreds of years. Microplastics are already being found in our food chain, so what is it going to be like for our children, our grandchildren, or our great grandchildren? We already have the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that contains about five and a half trillion bits of plastic, we don’t need any more. It fills me with dread when I read that by 2050 it is estimated that we will have more plastic in the sea than fish.
Do you think it's important to teach the next generation good consumer habits?
Definitely, but to be fair, I think the next generation is very aware of the problems we face. As a mum, I can only teach my kids to try and make good choices, and as they get older and more mature they’ll become more aware of the impact they have. But to try and explain to a seven year old why another tub of bouncing putty isn’t a good idea, you don’t always get the response you want. Joking aside, with so much coverage on the issues of plastic, the environment, and climate change, I think future generations will be more environmentally minded, with sustainability and ethical approaches becoming the norm. But we need to start making all these changes now and not just leave a mess for them to clean up.
When you're not saving the planet one toothbrush at a time, what are your favourite things to do in Yorkshire?
Where do I start? We re-homed a dog in January so walking has become a big thing for us – Hardcastle Crags is a lovely place to walk. If you’re into film and theatre, Square Chapel in Halifax is also a fantastic place. We’ve been to a couple of live events at The Piece Hall too, which is a great venue. We also love heading off to visit National Trust places like Nostell Priory, and of course Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which the kids love. We made a New Year’s resolution to explore more as life can pass you by so quickly, and so far we’re doing ok. We’ve also been fortunate in Halifax to enjoy a burgeoning foodie scene in recent years – my favourites are Gimbals and Engine, both in Sowerby Bridge, and Café Thai in West Vale.