We have a dream.
In 2016, on Earth Day, I spent the morning reading about coral degradation, "trash islands"/ Great Pacific garbage patch, deforestation, global warming, and ocean pollutants. It was a depressing read, but it took me back to a day in 2014 when I was an educator at a museum in San Francisco. Exactly two years before, in 2014, I was in an eye-opening discussion with other educators and teen interns at the museum about the same issues. The overwhelming problem with plastic pollutant in the ocean, and the over-abundance of plastic toothbrush trash filling up landfills especially caught my attention.
I grew up in a beautiful and magical Island in the Western coast of Indonesia, and have been a scuba diver since I was 13 years old, going to regular scuba-diving trips almost weekly. It saddened and infuriated me that the same ocean I loved and spent my weekends in is now polluted and consequently facing grim destruction. In 2016, I was called to do something about it, I wanted to contribute- in some small way- to reversing the effect of these pollutant and heal the ocean somehow.
During my research, I discovered astonishing data about plastic pollutants, more specifically- plastic toothbrushes. Every year more than 350 million plastic toothbrushes are thrown away in the US alone (that's more than 50 million lbs!). These plastic toothbrushes sit in landfills, or find their ways to the ocean, destroying the marine ecosystem. How many more are going to accumulate over the next years? What if, I wondered, there was a toothbrush that will disappear after usage? Something that is perhaps organic and biodegradable? Or at least recyclable.
I started brainstorming and sketching ideas. The goal is to create a good-looking toothbrush that would be beneficial both for users, and the environment. I consulted with dentists, and tested prototypes on people. Through almost 100 prototypes, I finally put together the toothbrush with a combination of handle (Bamboo) and bristles (Bamboo charcoal bristles) that is 100% biodegradable, made of sustainable material, and designed to fit the human hand for ergonomic brushing. Unfortunately, we had to source the materials for a 100% biodegradable toothbrush from 3 different countries, and after our first batch of production we realized that the carbon footprint left by this production process is not in alignment with our mission and goals. We decided to move all production to a single manufacturer that unfortunately does not work with biodegradable bristles. Thus after our very first batch of production, we had to settle with non-biodegradable bristles in order to reduce our carbon footprint by 30%. Rest assured, we are still working towards once again using biodegradable bristles and producing 100% biodegradable toothbrushes. I welcome you to contribute to our research and development if you have suggestions for the bristles (please note that we will not consider using animal bristles as we are proudly vegan).
We dream of a world where more people are aware of the detrimental effect of using plastic toothbrushes. One of our goals is to gradually transition people from plastic toothbrush usage to biodegradable toothbrushes such as Natboo, potentially reducing millions of plastic pollutants in our oceans. I hope you will join our movement.
Natboo Brush was proudly born and nurtured in Oakland, California. Our community is an ecosystem of its own. Like the marine ecosystem, whose existence is precariously threatened by humanity's irresponsible actions, our community's ecosystem too is experiencing its own challenges. One of the most notable challenges in our community today is homelessness. Many men, women, and children are forced to live in their cars, in shelters, or on the streets of Oakland. The homeless often struggle to fulfill even the most basic needs. Among these needs is basic oral hygiene. The homeless often go on for years without a visit to the dentist, and this fact includes children. They often struggle to afford a toothbrush, and often rely on donations to be able to brush their teeth regularly. Natboo is committed to help the local communities through proceeds from our profits and through our One Brush for One program, where for every toothbrush we sell, we give one away for those who cannot afford it in our community. As we grow in the future, our plan is to expand this program statewide, nationally, and eventually internationally. We believe, with your help, we can achieve this goal. We are looking forward to a day when we can donate as many toothbrushes as needed to fulfill the demands from shelters we are working with- especially for the homeless children.
Apart from the homeless community, we are also committed to support those whose causes we believe in, causes supporting the environment, education, child welfare, and women issues. We will rotate our donations quarterly. If you have questions regarding our charity work, or the non-profit organizations we are working with, please reach out to us. If you are a non-profit organization who is interested in working with us, please contact us. We are always eager to work with those whose vision and mission are aligned with ours.