Do you ever look around and wonder to yourself “How can I make a difference in this great, big world?” Many people at some point or another. Maybe it’s mowing your neighbor’s yard or volunteering at your local church, synagogue, or mosque. Maybe your passion is community organizing or rescuing homeless cats or dogs. Perhaps someone reading this article is thinking up the next big idea at this very moment.
Oftentimes the easiest way to make a difference is in the everyday, simple things. For Ro Kumar, his big idea was as simple as updating an everyday item – toothbrushes.
Over 4.7 billion plastic, non-biodegradable toothbrushes are dumped in our landfills and oceans each year worldwide and for passionate environmentalist and plastic pollution expert Ro Kumar, that just wouldn’t do.
“It all started almost 3 years ago. I watched a documentary movie called Plastic Planet with some friends and family. The film opened my eyes to how plastic is destroying the environment and human health. That night, I remember looking at my plastic toothbrush and it just didn’t make sense to me anymore. Originally, I just wanted to find an eco-friendly toothbrush for myself. But when I couldn’t find a good one on the market, I decided to create my own.”
And just like that, Ro’s sustainable toothbrush company Brush with Bamboo was born.
One could say that environmental sustainability is a mission for Ro Kumar and his family. Originally, the Kumars were living in Southern California for years as the typical American family. In 2008, however, the Kumars decided to turn their home into an organic permaculture garden. What was once a plain green lawn was transformed into a wonderful garden consisting of 70 fruit trees and 50 different types of vegetables, all together producing an unbelievable 5,000 pounds of food per year.
Soon, their home was a model of suburban sustainable living for all to see, aptly named “The Growing Home”.
This was the foundation for what would soon be Brush with Bamboo. While there are many forms of plastic products today, the Kumars decided to focus on toothbrushes. Not only is the average plastic toothbrush made entirely of plastic, but so is the packaging. This revelation inspired Brush with Bamboo, a company dedicated to plastic-free, eco-friendly dental hygiene.
Ro Kumar, holding degrees from both Stanford and Berkley, is uniquely positioned to make an impact with his family’s sustainable company. His expertise on plastics has been featured in several publications including the Huffington Post. Today, Brush with Bamboo manufactures the most environmentally friendly bristled brush on the market, with a bamboo handle, a commercially compostable wrapper, and a box made from paper that folds together using no glues, and nylon bristles. Brush with Bamboo is also FDA, USDA, and Green America Certified and is an approved member of the Plastic Pollution Coalition.
The secret is in the bamboo itself. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth. After it is harvested, the bamboo stalks regrow to full size within two years. Because it contains naturally occurring antimicrobial agents, there is no need for fertilizers or pesticides during cultivation. And, Brush with Bamboo uses bamboo that is totally organic and wild.
Compared to the biodegradable rate of plastics, research has found that plastic never really, fully biodegrades because it is not a part of nature’s food chain. But bamboo is – and it’s a natural, safe replacement for this eco-conscious dental hygiene product. Animal lovers will also be happy to hear that this particular bamboo brush is made with Moso bamboo and is not the variety consumed by pandas as a regular part of their diet.
Brush with Bamboo toothbrushes are not only more earth-conscious, but they are also functionally the same as traditional options. These bamboo dental products last just as long as those that are medically recommended by the American Dental Association, and in fact, are actually considered more sanitary than plastic brushes as bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, naturally antibacterial, and naturally resistant to fungus and mold.
As thousands of happy customers can attest, Ro Kumar and his family business are at the forefront of sustainable household products with even more planned for the future. As Mr. Kumar says about the future, “I am extremely passionate about bringing our production as close as possible to true long-term sustainability. It’s my promise that as we grow, we will change our model to become more truly ecological. I think this is why we have received public endorsements from many leading environmentalists like Ed Begley Jr., 5 Gyres, and Beth Terry. We’re working on plant-based alternatives to the plastic nylon bristles that we currently use. Most of all though, our main work is to expand awareness about plastic pollution. The more people become aware, the more our business will grow.”