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Why changing your toothbrush matters

Why changing your toothbrush matters
You may be thinking, does getting a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic toothbrush really going to make a difference? Especially since your neighbour, colleague, and boss are still probably using plastic or even electric toothbrushes. Can one person really make a positive impact, and is the butterfly effect a real thing? The answer is your choices matter. They matter as a person, as a consumer, a friend, and a role model. 


Reinforcing our Environmental Bubble

Frequently we do not even realize how our personal choices influence the people around us. It is said that we are the combination of the four people we spend the most time with. We begin to share mannerisms, thoughts on the world, and behaviours. While in some ways this puts pressure on us to choose the people we associate with wisely it can also have the downside of reinforcing our bubble. If you are an eco-friendly person, or maybe even consider yourself an activist for the planet, there is a chance that your Facebook feed and people surrounding you all reinforce your political and environmental views. It may be easy to just recycle ideas and convince yourself that the world is moving towards a more sustainable future. Unfortunately, if you have gone out on the beach or river clean-ups recently you would have found that the number of plastic toothbrushes found is still steady, and maybe even increasing. For this reason, it is important we continue to meet and spend time with new people, to not have a skewed and biased view of the world. The reality is that the tide of plastic is growing every year with no good solutions so far to turn off the tap.


What is being done to stop plastic pollution?

Sure some countries have banned plastic bags and others have eliminated straws. The largest percentage of plastic in our oceans is from fishing nets. These ghost nets drift with the ocean currents continuing to capture marine life for hundreds of years past their use. The 10 rivers that carry 93 percent of that trash are the Yangtze, Yellow, Hai, Pearl, Amur, Mekong, Indus and Ganges Delta in Asia, and the Niger and Nile in Africa. And Boyan Slat's Ocean Cleanup has met several hurdles including breaking down on it's first couple of missions. Even with organisations such as Parley for the Oceans, 4Ocean, and smaller cleanup groups working tirelessly to responsibly dispose of trash, marine animals are still dying every day due to plastic ingestion. Turtles are finding it difficult to nest on trash covered beaches, others experience floating syndrome and starve to death from the gases released by decomposing plastic in their stomach, and other species are struggling to get enough nutrition with plastic taking up space in their stomachs.

The problem of Biodegradable Plastic

Biodegradable and compostable packages have been increasing in single-use coffee cups, in environmentally conscious businesses, and as alternatives to single-use plastics. Unfortunately, the waste management industry and recycling facilities in many parts of the world are still lacking to safely, and properly dispose of these plastics. Unlike the boo boo bamboo toothbrushes that will be able to break down in your own backyard compost, many biodegradable and compostable marketed items require an industrial compost machine. By throwing them in regular bins, it does not solve any waste problems. On the other hand, it may increase them as people believe they are doing the right thing.


What are the trends looking like?


Fortunately, mainly thanks to the prevalence of social media campaigning and the horrifying and captivating documentary A Plastic Ocean, the plastic crisis has gotten a front-row seat in the media for the past couple of years. It can be debated that it is a ' sexy ' environmental problem to focus population anger on. In reality, the plastic crisis is just a minute part of the challenges our planet is facing. Climate Change is the biggest challenge our generation is facing, with the warming impacts having unprecedented effects on the climate, temperatures, ocean currents, endangered species, water scarcity, hunger, and more. However, due to the complexity of Climate Change and intricacies of government and mega-corporation vested interests, it is a mammoth issue. An issue so large that no one campaign can quite grasp it with a catchy slogan. " Stop Sucking" or " Bag no More" is simply easier topics to tackle.

If we do look at supermarkets, even chains as large as Coles and Woolworths now have 'eco-friendly' options easily accessible by the public. If you wish to turn your house into a zero waste home, check out our post on a sustainable bathroom here. As little as two years ago, you would not have been able to find the range of reusable coffee mugs, bamboo toothbrushes, compostable bags, and more readily available. This change has occurred due to the demand of the consumer.


Is it up to the corporations, governments, or people?

The environmental and sustainability issue comes from a three-pronged system. The corporations, governments, and people need to work together to minimize environmental impact. Unfortunately, these three entities are deeply intertwined and connected. Governments are not going to make choices that corporations do not want to support and will lose them the popular vote with the people. Corporations will continue maximizing their profits and meeting consumer demand. And people will continue to buy what is available, easy, and affordable to them. Thanks to the pioneers in the environmental movement, now plant-based food options, bamboo products, and even upcycled plastic products have entered the mainstream. This occurred due to the individuals who chose options that prioritized their ethics when it comes to the planet. They had to pay higher monetary prices, but also experience the drawback of living outside of the mainstream. Their social interactions, work opportunities, and more could have been hindered due to their choices to not support non-sustainable organizations and try to live a minimal impact lifestyle. Now, those people are growing in number, and while still not a majority, in many areas around the world they are perfectly well accepted. Last year a study found that 77% of people want to learn how to live more sustainably. Over 43 million individuals in the United States are choosing plant-based protein.

So why does it matter if you switch your toothbrush?

Just like many first steps, switching from a bamboo toothbrush can be symbolic and iconic. It shows that you are making the conscious decision to take a moment to consider your consumer habits and their impacts on the planet. It means we are shifting to a new world normally. Your friends and family may see your bamboo toothbrush and that seed will be planted for the next time they purchase a toothbrush. These small choices we made will continue to show the corporations that eco-friendly alternatives are viable options. By voting with your dollar, you can also dictate who reaps the benefits of your rewards.
Do you want to support individuals who are responsible for millions of tonnes of plastic waste on the shores of the ocean? Or do you want to support small businesses that are choosing earth-friendly materials for their products?
The worst-case scenario, you will have decreased the carbon and plastic footprint you personally leave behind on the planet. And maybe, you may save a marine animal by ensuring 4 fewer toothbrushes a year end up in the ocean.