Trees & Seas Partner Uses Production and Sale of Sustainable Toothbrushes to Fund Impact Projects
847 is a number that Tommie Eaton – co-founder of @BambuuBrush toothbrushes – is unlikely to forget: “It’s what we started the business with. We weren’t wealthy, and everything was done from raw passion.”
£847, the equivalent of about USD$1000. Or, in other words, a spit, a lick of shoeshine, and a whole lot of gumption and drive. Which, given the current success of @BambuuBrush, the product and its values, goes to show that starting numbers are just that, a place at the start line, and nothing more.
Eaton, in fact, traces the inception of @BambuuBrush and his environmental sensibility to a series of lightbulb moments when he was working in travel in Asia, the most stark of which were accidentally filming a turtle attempting to eat a plastic bag in the ocean, and also becoming aware that children in remote communities were suffering a series of undiagnosed ailments, including debilitating headaches and nosebleeds, likely related to the burning of plastic in their villages.
“As Rebecca (Dudbridge) and I worked, we started to see an increase – a dramatic increase – in plastic use, and waste. Use that was plainly destroying the environment but also impacting people. It was such a stark realization,” says Eaton. “And of course we wanted to do something about it.”
At about the same time Eaton and Dudbridge watched the documentary, A Plastic Ocean, which catalyzed all the issues the couple had been considering.
So they started to think, and came up with @BambuuBrush because they recognized how sustainable bamboo is, but also because tooth brushing is a universal endeavor the world over, and also “one of the first things you do in the morning and one of the last things you do at night. We wanted to have a product that everyone could use and engage with everyday people with these important notions. The toothbrush is very symbolic – and we felt that if we could implant the simple message in the minds of using a sustainable product for such a standard daily activity, that hopefully that would inspire people to make more eco-conscious decisions throughout their day.”
To date, @BambuuBrush has stopped 60,000 kilos (132,000+ pounds) of plastic toothbrushes from entering the environment. But for Eaton and Dudbridge, this isn’t enough: “People use plastics every minute of every day, and because of this, we believe that plastics can be a bridge, or a gateway, into a bigger conversation about sustainability.”
As Eaton talks, his passion spills over, in particular with his vision of a circular, waste-free future.
“All of this allows us to present ideas related to much broader zero waste thinking, a world where people grow their own food, take ownership locally, find solutions…”
Proceeds from the sale of @BambuuBrush fund what Eaton and Dudbridge refer to as Impact Projects, from cleanups to direct education initiatives. For both of them, knowledge cannot exist in isolation, but has to be about taking action. No surprise then when they expressed their level of enthusiasm at their collaboration in the upcoming second edition of Plastic Oceans’ Trees & Seas Festival: “We’re so excited. There are so many synergies between us and Plastic Oceans – through activities of course but also through collaborative raising of awareness and understanding. I think this is the start of something special…” Eaton drifts off, before correcting himself: “No, it already is something special.”
Tod Hardin, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Plastic Oceans International: “The work that Tommie and Rebecca do, both as individuals and also with their company, is a classic example of a business infused with a desire not to make profit at any cost, but rather to leave a lasting impact on our world. Starting this month, but with a main focus in September, we have events taking place across the globe, from cleanups, to tree plantings, to educational programs, and people like Tommie and Rebecca are the heart of these initiatives. We are stronger, and more resolute, for these relationships and collaborations. We believe in them, and know that through them, we can make significant changes to our environment, for the good of all, for the future of all.”
The Trees & Seas Festival, presented by Montes Wines, takes place September 16 – 25, 2022, when it will again celebrate and unite ocean and forest conservation in hundreds of events around the globe. Individuals, corporations and organizations are encouraged to join an event or to organize one themselves. Full details and resources at TreesAndSeas.Earth.
Jon Bonfiglio is a broadcast and print journalist, as well as Managing Editor for Plastic Oceans International’s written content.