Here's a question I get asked in comments online and in person: "How eco friendly is Grin—the brush head is still made of plastic?"
And it’s a good question. In this blog post I'm going to answer it (and let you know a bit about the future of Grin). Read on!
TL;DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read): Because you keep the handle and only replace the brush head, Grin toothbrush uses 85% LESS plastic than traditional, disposable toothbrushes. We are currently testing biodegradable plastic. Plus, for every Grin toothbrush we sell, $1 goes to The Ocean Legacy Foundation so they can remove 120gm of plastic—about five standard toothbrushes—from our oceans.
First, about the toothbrush
Grin is a new kind of manual toothbrush. Our handle is made of anodized aluminum and the brush heads are made of polypropylene (#5 plastic). Our bristles are made of Nylon 66. All the materials are completely safe for use in a toothbrush.
Now on to why Grin is better for the planet that using disposable toothbrushes from the drug store. Grin uses the 3 R’s of recycling…
R1 – Reduce
My goal in starting Grin, was to reduce the amount of plastic waste that drugstore disposable toothbrushes create. (More about making Grin here.) FYI: each year, more than 3 billion plastic toothbrushes are disposed of. That's enough to circle the globe more than 12 times, or, equivalent to the weight of 5,500 yellow school buses. Barf.
Because you keep the handle and only replace the toothbrush head, Grin uses 85% less plastic than plastic disposables. Put another way, 6 Grin toothbrushes weigh the same as 1 plastic disposable. So 1.5 years of using Grin has the same amount of plastic as 3 months of using a disposable (assuming you change your brush head every 3 months like you should!).
As a product that we put into our mouths, it’s pretty important that the material is safe and hygienic and plastic meets those needs. Plus, it’s easy to work with, lightweight to ship and recyclable.
So Grin uses the first of the 3 R's of Recycling: reduce. By a lot. That was my goal from the outset and I'm happy with the results so far.
R2 – Reuse
Spoiler: If you planned to read my blog post about why I started Grin… it’s because throwing away a used toothbrush handle seems pretty stupid to me.
In designing Grin, I wanted to create a handle that was not only environmentally friendly, but beautiful and hygienic.
So we made Grin’s handle out of aluminum, which, along with glass is one of the most recyclable materials on earth and can be recycled over and over without losing quality.
The other benefits to using aluminum are:
- it’s lightweight and saves energy in transportation
- it’s hygienic and safe to use for oral care
- it can be anodized, which is better than using a paint or powder coating in that the colour is actually bonded with the metal
All in all, our toothbrush handle is safe, durable, beautiful and much more hygienic than drugstore disposables that collect old toothpaste and bacteria.
R3 – Recycle
Recycle is the last of the 3 R’s is because it’s better to reduce how much raw material is used and then reuse what we can before choosing the last option—recycling.
But, as I mentioned above, our handles are completely recyclable and our brush heads are as well, you just need to remove the bristles (which take a minute with some pliers).
Currently, the amount of waste from a Grin toothbrush is only the bristles. Disposable, plastic toothbrushes aren’t recyclable in local blue box programs because they fuse together different materials, making recycling impossible. Grin, on the other hand, is designed simply (with a nod to Dieter Rams 10 Design Principles).
Ocean Legacy Foundation
To make Grin even more eco friendly, we donate $1 from the sale of every Grin to the Ocean Legacy Foundation, a not-for-profit that uses the money to organize and run Cleanup Expeditions. Every $1 we donate goes towards removing roughly 120 gm of plastic and debris from our oceans and natural environment.
That makes Grin the only toothbrush I know of that cleans both your teeth AND the planet.
Grin is an experiment to see if a business that puts people and the planet first can succeed. I hope to run Grin like Ray Anderson, the amazing founder of Interface carpet, or Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, two people who pushed their businesses to not only reduce their environmental impact, but to work towards having zero impact.
Grin launched in February of 2018 and we're about to order our 2nd order of toothbrushes. My hope is that in the near future, Grin can do even more to reduce it’s impact on the planet (we're currently looking at several ways to do that, including working a eco friendly not-for-profit and a plastic recycler).
Thanks for reading! If you have any feedback, leave a comment below or email me directly at: simon [at] grinbrush.com