We here at OraWellness love spending time in nature. Just like smiling, hanging out in nature is a simple and effective way to decompress and reduce stress (which winds up supporting our oral and whole-body health 🙂 ).
As we enjoy the great outdoors, it’s fun to remind ourselves that all of Earth’s inhabitants (humans, other animals, plants, microbes, etc.) are really just part of one big, intertwined ecosystem (that is WAY more complex than we humans could ever really understand).
So, even if we don’t always feel it, we’re all connected.
If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ve probably heard us talk about the importance of being a good steward of our oral microbiome (because the mouth and the body are connected and constantly influence one another).
Similarly, it’s humanity’s responsibility to be a good steward of our planet. And it’s in all of our best interest to do a great job here because ultimately, our planet’s level of health influences our level of health as individuals.
OraWellness’ Ongoing Efforts to Be a Good Steward
We’ve participated in many beach cleanups, and we’ve seen the devastating amounts of plastics and other junk that wash up on the shores.
We’re determined to do whatever we can to try to counteract some of that waste.
Over the years, we’ve been researching more eco-friendly packaging and product components, and we’ve switched to more sustainable options whenever they’ve become available. We’re not quite where we want to be just yet, but we’ve made some great progress so far and we’ll continue to make these kinds of swaps until we eventually reach our goal of 100% sustainable packaging.
This reminds us of a parable that you may have heard before: an adult is walking down the beach on a day when a bunch of starfish have washed ashore. They spot a child who’s picking up one starfish at a time and throwing it back into the sea. The adult points out that there are tens of thousands of starfish on the beach, so the child’s efforts won’t make much of a difference. Smiling, the child picks up another starfish, throws it into the ocean, and says, “I made a difference to that one!”
We can all make choices to contribute to solutions. The point is to do something that’s heading in the right direction, even if you consider the action ‘small’ the grand scheme of things. Sometimes many small actions can wind up adding up to make a big difference.
With that in mind, we’d like to share 6 ways that OraWellness has been working to make a difference by using business as a force for good.
1. BrushEco (the Sustainable Bass Toothbrush & Its Mission to Help Clean Up Existing Plastic Waste):
Our BrushEco Bass toothbrushes are made of 99.97% biodegradable and compostable materials. The brush handles are made of sustainable bamboo and there are steel staples that hold the bristles in place.
The only part of BrushEco that does not decompose on its own are the nylon bristles. (And just as soon as sustainable tech provides us with a compostable bristle solution that’s both gentle and effective at cleaning our teeth, we’ll update BrushEco to make it 100% biodegradable. 🙂 )
Even the packaging is more sustainable: BrushEco comes in a compostable vegetable cellulose bag inside a post-consumer recycled paperboard box.
The best part is that 100% of BrushEco profits are donated to organizations that are implementing solutions to our global plastic problem, like The Ocean Cleanup, Surfrider Foundation, Seabin Foundation, 5 Gyres, and Algalita.
You can read more about our BrushEco Mission here.
2. Shipping Packaging:
Plastic bubble mailers are cheaper to buy initially, but they come with an often-overlooked lifetime environmental cost. So, we choose to invest in our environmental future by shipping our packages in recycled paper padded mailer envelopes or cardboard boxes (depending on the size of the products in the order).
To cushion the products inside the packages, we only use brown paper (no nasty styrofoam bits or plastic bubble wraps here!).
(Side note: we’re also working to grow our distribution network so that folks can reduce their carbon footprint by purchasing our products locally. Here’s a link to our Store Locator page in case you’d like to check it out. And feel free to invite any practitioners or stores in your area to contact us about this program so that in the future, you can buy the products you love locally.)
3. HealThy Mouth Blend Packaging:
Our HealThy Mouth Blend comes in glass amber bottles. Depending on the quantity that’s ordered, the bottle comes in either a cardboard tube or a box that’s made of 95% recycled materials.
We’re still working on a sustainable solution for the plastic lid, safety seal ring, and drop reducer that’s inside the neck of the bottle. We haven’t found suitable non-plastic options for these pieces yet, but rest assured, we’re always keeping our eyes peeled so we can upgrade to more sustainable packaging options.
4. Shine Packaging:
Our Shine Remineralizing Tooth Whitening Powder originally came in a plastic jar. We knew right away that we wanted to switch to a better option, so we quickly changed to a glass jar that came with a black plastic lid, an inner plastic seal, and an outer plastic shrink wrap.
Then we swapped the black plastic lid for a golden colored metal lid instead. The new lid fits tighter against the lip of the glass jar than the old plastic lid did, making it much better at keeping the Shine powder fresh. So, with this change, we were able to get rid of the old plastic lid and the former plastic inner seal.
While we were at it, we also replaced Shine’s outer shrink wrap with a tamper-evident tape. Using the tamper-evident tape instead of shrink wrap helped us reduce our plastic use just a little more.
Also, every Shine jar contains a birchwood scoop (which we intentionally chose instead of a plastic scoop). Each jar comes in its own cardboard box, which helps minimize the potential for the jars to get damaged during shipping or while they’re on distributor shelves.
And, Shine is also available in a bulk bag option that many folks like to use to refill their old jars. (Please note that the bulk bags do not come with the birchwood scoop.)
5. Tongue Cleaner Packaging:
As you might remember from our continual improvement article, our stainless steel tongue cleaners used to come with a plastic ‘S’ clip that held the ends together so that the cleaner would fit nicely into its plastic packaging.
However, we were super excited when we discovered that our production team could use a jute string to hold the ends together instead of the plastic ‘S’ clip and that we could produce a plastic-free cardboard box to house the tongue cleaner.
With these improvements in place, our stainless steel tongue cleaners are now the only ones you can find that are completely free of plastic packaging. 🙂
6. HealThy Mouth System Educational Materials:
The HealThy Mouth System comes with important educational materials that we previously provided via a physical CD and DVD.
When we were ready to move away from the CD/DVD format, we briefly considered using thumb drives instead.
Ultimately, we decided that a thumb drive was still heading in a more wasteful direction than where we wanted to go. So in the end, we chose to go zero-waste by creating an online portal to house the educational materials.
We’re a work in progress. We haven’t totally reached our goal of 100% eco-friendly and sustainable product packaging yet, but like the child in the parable we mentioned above, we’re continuing our efforts (and we’re making some headway). Even though we’re not where we’d ideally like to be just yet, we’re still continuing to learn and grow and make positive changes that help to support planet Earth. 🙂
We know that as a company and even as individuals, any small Earth-friendly actions that we habituate can build up to have a big impact over time. And who knows? Along the way, we might wind up inspiring others to act as well. Then before we know it, there’ll be a ripple effect of positive actions happening. 🙂
What about you? Do you have a ‘starfish’ story? What do you do to help support our planet and its inhabitants? Do you have any eco-friendly tips to share? If so, please post them in the comments below so we can all learn from each other.