Bogobrush remakes toothbrush with bioplastic from Michigan farms

Bogobrush made a splash a few years ago, selling its first run of biodegradble toothbrushes thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign. Today Bogobrush is debuting a better, more sustainable toothbrush.

The original Bogobrush toothbrush featured a shaft made of sculpted bamboo and bristles composed of bio-plastic nylon. The idea was to use materials that grew quickly (bamboo) and decomposed nearly as fast. The idea turned out to be better on paper than in reality.

"We ended up losing half of our first product run (due to problems with using bamboo)," says John McDougall, who co-founded the Midtown-based business with his sister Heather McDougall. "We knew it wouldn’t be a suitable material for us."

So the McDougall siblings went back to the drawing board, and it’s a decision they are happy they made. They switched the shaft material from bamboo to bioplastic, specifically a flaxseed oil-based plastic from local farms. It allowed Bogobrush to move production of the toothbrushes from overseas to Michigan.

"We were able to get the same compostability as we did with the bamboo, but we could do it locally," John McDougall says.

The new Bogobrush toothbrush comes with a stand (also made of the bioplastic) and compostable nylon bristles. The whole package is just as biodegrable as the previous version, meaning it can return to the earth within a few months if tossed out into a compost pile.

"You should expect it to break down as fast as a piece of wood," John McDougall says.

Bogobrush started off with an order of 5,000 brushes and has done two more new orders. John McDougall hopes to send out 10,000 in orders by the end of this holiday shopping season. Currently it is running a social mission special where for every toothbrush purchased, one is donated to a person in need. It has already sent more than 2,000 toothbrushes through partner health clinics like Covenant Community Care, which provides dental care to patients throughout Metro Detroit, regardless of their ability to pay.

"The more we can sell, the more we can give to our partners," John McDougall says.

He hopes grab a toehold in the metro Detroit market this year, selling a few ten thousand toothbrushes over the course of 2016. That would leave a lot of room for growth in a market where 450 million toothbrushes end up in landfills. Bogobrush's new toothbrushes retail for $14.25 and can be purchased here.

Source: John McDougall, co-founder of Bogobrush
Writer: Jon Zemke

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