Sexy Toothbrushes (Not A Thing)(Yet)

My Boo

I don’t have a category for Environmental Wellness because I lump these efforts into the Social Wellness category. I guess this is because I want Environmental Wellness to be a group effort. Maximum impact and all. Everybody on board for intervention, conservation, preservation. Green hearts unite and romance our planet. Rah rah, sis-boom-blah, you get it. But a daily practice is individual, despite my label-lumping. Smaller, quieter, private choices do matter. The next right thing might in the kitchen or bathroom where no one else is going to see it, hear about it, ask about it, or learn about it.

Unless we blog about it. And by we I mean … well I still mean we because now that we’ve all gotten a glimpse of how much Instagram is soon going to suck, can we PLEASE all go back to blogging? But back to my sexy point.

Sometimes romancing the planet is a slow courtship. Compromise and caveats instead of valentines and lingerie. For instance, I decided to switch to biodegradable toothbrushes at the start of the year. Mmm, that’s hot. It wasn’t a resolution or anything. There was a post-holiday sale. It was something I already wanted to do and kept meaning to do. I needed one. The timing just worked out this way. And y’all know I’ve got a thing for bamboo. A perennial affair. I grow it at home. It’s my most successful crop. That’s my backyard ‘boo up there in the sunsoaked photo. So of course I was pleased and flush with feel-goodness as soon as I ordered my ‘boo toothbrushes to do my part in banishing microplastics and all the rest.

(Heavy sigh) Except it never occurred to me that the beigey-brown bristles in my eco-fab toothbrush were still nylon. They looked so natural in the photos. All of the important words were there:  biodegradable, sustainable, renewable, ethical. But they meant the handle of the brush. (Gentle sobbing) I didn’t think to ask before I ordered. I just assumed the bristles were bamboo too. Or something else — specifically something which would someday turn to dirt — so I could blissfully imagine my toothbrush completely breaking down and returning to the Earth again. (Head in hands) No, only the handle.

So I emailed the brush masters. They know. They are trying. They are looking. They are hoping. The plan is to one day produce a 100% compostable toothbrush. They don’t address it on their website because they don’t want to give folks excuses not to choose at least a better handle, which is still a baby step in the right direction. They are open to suggestion but as of this day they haven’t discovered a natural bristle which will clean teeth well without gouging the life out of human gums, lips, tongues, cheeks, etc.

Apparently the flexi-soft bamboo bristles from my fantasy don’t exist. My sexy new toothbrush has still has fake boobs. Because anything as stiff as bamboo would be a horrific choice. Makes sense. And I ought to know. I cut, scratch, and stab myself every time I play around my backyard bamboo boudoir and that’s without ever putting it in my mouth. You think I’m exaggerating but backyard bamboo was the only thing that ever compelled me to buy or wear safety goggles. Sometimes love hurts. And now I feel silly. What the hell was I thinking? Bamboo bristles for oral care, ha!

I checked with some of the other ‘boo brush makers to see if anyone else has solved the bristle problem. Nope. Same deal. There is one company using porcine hair (that means pig), eww, but most are in same quandary. Trying but not yet. Some have managed to incorporate partially plant-based bristles but they still aren’t biodegradable. Said brush peddlers do try to comfort me and my ilk though. Take heart, green lover, a bamboo handle is still a substantial improvement since the handle represents a substantial portion of the brush, right?

Yeah. I guess it is substantial even though bristles are more micro than handles and the whole point was to reduce microplastics. I guess it’s still a win. I still like it. All nude and woody; air-drying in a recycled glass jar. It works well with the sultry sage mouth rinse I made from my own garden. And the handmade soap. And nut oil moisturizer. And the arrowroot deodorant. And cosmetics made of flowers. At the sink I clean with herbal shampoo. Beside the toilet I clean with vinegar. Bolted to the floor, down the hall, under the roof, inside the house that Jack built.

I’m kidding. I don’t know who built my house. Remember that poem, though?

This is me taking a wider view to feel better about a half-measure as opposed to obsessing over a micro-stalemate. This is also me issuing a lengthy disclaimer in the interest of transparency. You know, before I recommend, needle, wheedle, or otherwise compel you to stop using plastic toothbrushes. My intentions are good even if my foresight was clumsy. Besides, who hasn’t forgiven a clumsy lover? Someone’s gotta make the first move. The overall effort was and still is meant to be a romantic overture within my relationship to the planet. And to all of you. Let me love you — teeth, gums, planet, chums.

— Mercy

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