Saturday 19 October 2019

Eco-friendly smiles: Couple combat plastic with bamboo toothbrush


Mícheál Ó Scannáil

An Irish couple have designed a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush in an effort to curb the 3.5 billion made from plastic that are sold annually.

Niamh McGill and Joe Finnegan, from Ashbourne, Co Meath, designed the toothbrush after realising the effect that plastics are having on our environment.

Niamh, who is a vet, has done voluntary conservation work in several continents.

The 34-year-old, who is studying a masters in conservation, said that the idea for the product came about after seeing similar designs while in China in 2017.


After returning home, the lack of similar products in the Irish market, and the extent of the plastic we use became aware to her.

After discussion this with her partner, Joe Finnegan, the hobbyist woodworker produced a prototype handle, which eventually became a registered patented design- the Bambooth.

"I really started to notice how much we were recycling in the house and there's only two of us and we don't eat in all the time," Ms McGill said.

"So basically, one day when I was brushing my teeth, it kind of dawned on me, 'why would you not use a biodegradable handle if everything else was the same?

"Joe, who is my partner, was doing woodwork at the time as a hobby. So, when he came home one evening he carved a bamboo handle out of a piece of wood.

Each plastic toothbrush takes a minimum of 450 years to biodegrade with the vast majority ending up in our oceans and landfill.

The Bambooth is made from Panda-friendly Moso bamboo which is a renewable natural material and is 100pc biodegradable, unlike plastic. The brushes' nylon bristles are also BPA-free.

"It's really obvious that people should be using these," Ms McGill continued.

"Our tagline is 'change the handle, change the world', and I think the bottom line is that everybody wants to make a change and is willing to do so if they're not giving up on anything.

"So everyone dental hygiene is really important to them but if you can be assured that your toothbrush is doing the same thing but all your changing is the handle you're going to hold but that it's going to be gone in six months rather than hanging around for 500 years, I think that's a case for making a change."

Ms McGill and Mr Finnegan are currently living in London but plan on moving home next year to continue their efforts with environment-friendly products.

For every Bambooth sold, a small donation is made to four conservation efforts linked to habitat protection. In the coming years Ms McGill and Mr Finnegan hope to work more closely with these groups.

The toothbrushes come in four colours, each representing one of the groups the Bambooth is associated with.

Forest Green is linked with the Jane Goodall Institute, Sea Blue is linked with Plastic Oceans UK, Coral Pink is associated with the Coral Reef Alliance and their Aqua Marine brush represents a link with The Marine Conservation Society.

“It's 10c per brush goes to those organisations with a minimum donation,” Ms McGill said.

“I picked the groups because they're all ones I really like. I've done a lot of research; I haven't had a chance to work with them yet but my plan with my masters is to work with some of these organisations next year.

“I've done conservation work as a vet, so it's all animal related, in Africa, Thailand, Borneo and places like that.”

Bambooth brushes are available with a handy travel case for €5.49, or a multipack containing four different coloured brushes- a year’s supply- for €19.99. There will also be soft-bristled adults’ and children’s brushes by the end of the year.    

Irish Independent

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