Interview: We wanted to launch a brand that had a strong environmental concern
Every year, an estimated five billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away and end up in landfills. This overuse of plastic, which is severely damaging our planet for many generations to come, is a concern not only for individuals who are trying to lead a more environmentally aware lifestyle, but also for an eco-friendly indie brand from Portugal, Bam & Boo, who have realised that zero waste dental hygiene is the way forward. To find out what Bam & Boo is all about, Dental Tribune Online spoke to Margarida Macias, who has been Chief Operations Officer since February 2018.
Margarida, when was the toothbrush introduced to the market?
Bam & Boo started its journey into the dental market in September 2017. This happened mainly through online channels. The founders of the brand are Fernando Ribeiro and Nuno Catarino, who created and developed the concept. Currently, we are present in over 40 countries.
What inspired Bam & Boo to go organic and vegan?
We wanted to launch a brand that not only was innovative in the way in which it reached consumers, but also had a strong environmental concern. The toothbrush seemed like an obvious choice for us. We brush our teeth every day, dentists recommend that you change your brush regularly and most toothbrushes are made entirely out of plastic. It is estimated that more than a billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown into the trash every year in Europe alone. Bam & Boo wants to bring more sustainability, ecology and convenience to these little objects we use every day.
And what is the general feedback from your customers?
The feedback has been great. One of the things that motivates us is the kind of love we have been receiving from all over the world. On social media, namely Instagram and Facebook, we want to be more than a brand of toothbrushes. There, we also give advice and information on how to make the world more sustainable, such as “It’s not just a brush; it is changing the paradigm: how can we change, minimise or reuse every day?”
You make your toothbrushes from bamboo. From where is this bamboo sourced and how are the toothbrushes produced?
Our moso bamboo is sourced in Asia, where you can find the most of its kind. This sort of bamboo is one of the most common species of this plant. It has a high growth rate and does not need any pesticides or additives. Also, it consumes little resources and nutrients from the land.
Regarding the production process: First, the bamboo is harvested from the mountains and cut into sections. Afterwards, we let the bamboo sections dry to prevent mildew. A worker then, with the use of a milling machine, shapes and polishes each bamboo section into a toothbrush. Lastly, holes are drilled into the brush head and the bristles are inserted. The fact that our products are handmade is really important to us.
What is so special about bamboo as a material?
Bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world, and it is considered one of the most sustainable raw materials on the planet. The bamboo we use for our toothbrushes is organic and grown in the wild. It is also naturally antibacterial, making bamboo a great choice not only for the environment but also for oral health.
How significant is environmental awareness in dentistry in your opinion? Can you confirm any trends that indicate that companies, customers, etc. are more environmentally aware and appreciate products made from sustainable materials?
We have been increasingly contacted by dentists that are becoming more environmentally aware or that have been asked by patients about eco-friendly alternatives to plastic toothbrushes.
You have just recently extended your product portfolio with bamboo cotton buds. Do you plan on introducing more dental products to the market, like biodegradable floss?
Actually, yes. In a couple of months, we will be introducing a biodegradable floss that also comes in reusable glass packaging.
What sets Bam & Boo apart from other companies that also sell environmentally friendly toothbrushes?
We offer a subscription model that conveniently delivers a new toothbrush to the customer’s house every three months or any period that the consumer chooses. This way, no one has to worry about replacing an old toothbrush any more.
Do you have any advice on how to recycle the toothbrush properly?
The handle is made out of 100 per cent biodegradable bamboo and can be disposed of in your compost bin or you can give it a second use. The bristles are made from BPA-free nylon 6 and should be recycled with plastic. We recommend cutting them off or removing them with pliers. All the packaging materials—an envelope without plastic, a carton without glue and a protection bag made of polylactic acid, which is biodegradable and derived from renewable resources such as corn or cassava starch—are biodegradable too.
Tags: bam & boo, bamboo, biodegradable, environment, interview, toothbrush