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245: Sustainable tooth cleaners

Problem:

All-plastic polyethylene toothpaste tubes were introduced in the 1990s. One billion toothpaste tubes end up in landfills every year harsh chemical residues Every year, more than 50 Empire State Buildings worth of toothpaste tubes end up in landfills or oceans.

Solution:

Tube-free toothpaste


Determined to replace toothpaste tubes with tablets, in 2016, Lindsay McCormick, a TV producer in Hollywood, California, bought a new TDP 0 tablet machine made in Texas and having learned how to use it, began experimenting in her Los Angeles apartment with a range of different ingredients.

She talked to every dentist and dental hygienist who would give her the time of day and even took open source online chemistry classes to develop the right formula, free from harsh chemicals, dyes, artificial flavors, and unnecessary fillers.

The result was a product she called Bite Toothpaste Bits, a mint or mint charcoal flavored pill which once bitten becomes foamy like toothpaste, quantities of which can be contained in a refillable glass bottle.

Before long Lindsay started getting orders from people who shared her passion for sustainability.

So she bought a TDP 5 machine from the same company in Texas for US$2,599 that could make five thousand pills in an hour. A “Women’s Health” video that she had shot on her iPhone started going viral. Soon after, Lindsay ended up having to quit her job and has been working full time on Bite ever since.

After being featured in media outlets such Cosmopolitan and Business Insider, Bite operates out of a fully FDA-approved manufacturing facility to keep up with demand. Since August 2018, Bite has sold more than 12 million tablets.

Early in 2020, kid-friendly flavored Bits became available with their 4-month subscription. At the same time, in response to the hand sanitizer shortage due to COVID-19, Bite found the World Health Organization’s (WHO) formula and made it, using their repurposed and sanitized glass Bite bottles, then donating the first batch to those most in need in the Los Angeles area. (bitetoothepastebits.com)

Lindsay McCormick is not alone. In 2018, Kalleonne Laboratoire des Sources in Souspierre in the Drôme region of France, launched Ascentical, toothpaste sourced from mountain plants in a recyclable metal tin. It sells in BioCoop stores across France.

Toothpaste can be applied by fingers, but usually by a brush. John and Heather McDougall grew up in a small town in North Dakota. With a dad as a dentist, John’s path to design school, and Heather’s to law, were far from the family business. During school, however, they decided to use their talents to create products with environmental and social value, and as fate would have it, they could not resist starting with a toothbrush.

The result was the Bogobrush made from sculpted organic wild bamboo with bristles made from 62% castor bean oil and 38% nylon, and packaged in a cardboard box. Another firm, Radius, makes funky-looking toothbrushes called Source from cellulose and removable heads with vegetable-based nylon bristles.

What you can do: Buy and use these products.

Discover Solution 246: Peppermint tea for fart reduction

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