Last year at ExpoWest I saw some cool toothbrushes. They have handles that are made from recycled (or renewable) materials blended with plastics that are made either from corn or from post-consumer polypropylene. Also, the brush heads are replaceable. I requested samples of these toothbrushes, and about a week after I got home from the show they showed up on my doorstep. These toothbrushes are called the Source Toothbrush from a company called Radius. They make several other products including dental floss and toothbrush carrying cases, as well as all-plastic toothbrushes, though I’ve never tried any of these out for myself.
The Source Toothbrush is available in two versions, flax- and wood-handled. The handle of the wood toothbrush (the lighter version in the photo) is made with sawdust-type material the company gets from mills and such, and the handle of the flax toothbrush (the darker version) is made with, well, flax. When you replace the head of a Source toothbrush, you’re using about 20% of the plastic you’d be using if you bought a whole new toothbrush.
I like this idea, so I’ve continued to use the Source and I have a bunch of replaceable heads in my medicine cabinet. What I don’t like, though, is how freakishly wide the brush heads are. I read the company’s FAQs to see why they opted for such a wide brush head. Apparently the wider-than-average brush head “brushes teeth and massages gums simultaneously.” The wide head does another thing, too: it makes me drool.
It’s not like the Source toothbrush makes me froth at the mouth, or something. It’s more like spillage that occurs every once in a while when I’m brushing my teeth and the brush comes close to the front of my mouth. It could just be that I have a tiny mouth, but Ted’s mouth is, like, HUGE and he has the same problem. (No, seriously, the man’s jaw is enormous. I like to say that he looks the Reach Flip-Top Head guy.) Actually, come to think of it, I feel like I NEED a flip-top head in order to accommodate the giant bristled paddle attached to the end of this toothbrush.
And yet I keep using it. I feel like the concept is such a good one that I refuse to give it up. Seriously, why haven’t more companies figured out something similar to what Radius has going on with the Source? Maybe the company’s patents prevent it. Regardless of the reason, I haven’t found an environmentally responsible toothbrush that I actually enjoy using yet, so I’m sticking with my flax-handled Source toothbrush. I may have to deal with a little droolage on occasion, but I feel like such a good person when I use it because I know how much plastic I’m saving. It’s amazing how far a little feel-good self-righteousness can go towards forgiveness of an awkward product design.
Of course, you can always give the Preserve toothbrush a whirl. Similar to the razors that Jenni wrote about, the plastic used in its construction comes primarily from Stonyfield yogurt cups, and when you’re done with it you can send it back to the company, who will turn it into “plastic lumber,” whatever that is. It’s another great-sounding idea for a toothbrush, which is why I tried it. And it sucked. The handle bent all over the place, and I never really felt like my mouth was clean when I used it. This is why I stick with my Source toothbrush; at least I feel like it’s working.
I do like the Source’s large handle, at least. I have kind of large hands for a woman, which is great for playing the piano, but not so awesome for gripping small objects like, say, a tiny toothbrush. I don’t know how I’d feel about the giant handle if my hands were proportionally smaller, but I love the way it feels in my man-hand. (For the record, I don’t actually have man-hands. They’re definitely womanly, just kind of large.) The company also makes left-handed toothbrushes, in case that’s your particular concern.
If you decide to give the Source toothbrush a try, keep the drool factor in mind. Maybe you can find a way to make it work without having to tilt your head back, which is how I manage it. Or maybe you should just wear a bib. Either way, my personal opinion is that the plastic-saving concept of the Source toothbrush is worth the effort.