A wooden toothbrush

EML covered the full spectrum from the largest global issues to the trivial and apparently insignificant – it is amazing how they are connected.  Living longer (where we focus) is interrelated with a vast range of of other changes that collectively shout ‘the way we live life is changing – very fast – keep up!’

David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 focused world attention on the environmental damage caused micro plastics.  For over a century the world has used the oceans as one huge communal rubbish dump BP2 showed us in stark detail that this comes at a cost.  We face a number of challenges.  How to address the damage done by us all and how to achieve global prosperity in a sustainable manner.

So what has this got to do with a wooden toothbrush?  Everything!  The toothbrush – in different forms is universal and ubiquitous – we all use them every day and when they are worn out throw them away with little thought.  Now we learn that if we just discard them they will change around the planet for at least 1000 years and possibly longer. Do the maths, seven and half billion people using four brushes a year over 1000 years  – that’s an Everest size pile of plastic.  Now think about everything else we discard and it seems obvious that something has to change.

When it comes to the toothbrush there is an easy answer – make them out of wood.  Bamboo grows rapidly, adds oxygen to, and removes CO2 from, the atmosphere as it is growing and when it is discarded it breaks down within a year.  So what needs to change? – in a word US!  

I am not advocating a radical environmental campaign, just increased awareness.  For a century no one thought dumping our waste in the ocean could possibly do any hard, we were wrong.  Now some argue that swapping to a wooden toothbrush can’t possibly do any good.  I would say ‘wrong again’!