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Location: Midwest, United States

I floss daily, brush after every meal, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Saving the Earth, One Boar's Hair Toothbrush at a Time

I love my local health food store. I buy stuff there all the time even though I know it’s overpriced. But I regret one purchase I made there recently: an “alternative” toothbrush. My advice to you as an amateur oral hygiene expert: do not buy your toothbrush at a health food store.

Why was I drawn to this toothbrush? Was it made of organic hemp? Produced without the use of harsh chemicals? No. I was drawn to the toothbrush because it had a replaceable head. One you’re done with it, instead of tossing the whole thing, you remove the head and replace it with a new one, thereby throwing away a little less plastic. Less plastic headed to the landfill, less plastic needing to be produced using petrochemicals and creating industrial waste. Just a little less, yes, but every little bit counts, right?

It still seems like a not bad idea, generally speaking. And maybe if Metadent or Oral B decided to produce toothbrushes with replaceable heads, it would be. But this was not an Oral B. The bristles were not nice, slick nylon (or whatever they make normal toothbrush bristles out of). They were something else. Boar hair, I think. Or petrified sagebrush, or some other dirty, gritty thing. After I brushed my teeth with these bristles, they felt less clean rather than more. And even worse, the experience of brushing was totally ruined. It was like rubbing something really grainy and vile against my teeth, something like… well, boar hair. I shudder at the memory.

At that point I should have thrown the horrible thing away, certainly. But I did not. I immediately went back to brushing with my regular, fully disposable toothbrush. But I left the boar's hair toothbrush in my medicine cabinet. I don’t know why. I think I hoped that if I tried it again, I’d find that it wasn’t so terribly disgusting after all. Like maybe I’d get used to the feeling of having the coarse hairs of a dirty beast’s underbelly drug across my unsuspecting teeth. But when I tried again, it was just as gross, and finally I had to throw the thing away, along with its extra replaceable head.

Why oh why did I keep it after I learned of its nasty nature? Because I am a tree-hugging, bleeding heart environmentalist with a serious case of impending doom syndrome. I’ve always tried to do my part to keep the air clean, limit my garbage output, and conserve resources, but lately this has all begun to seem more pressing. Lately I’ve become convinced that between global warming and oil depletion we humans are in deep, deep shit. Suddenly I feel more desperate to do any little thing I can to buck the rushing tide of American consumption and ecological carelessness.

I want to say something pithy here at the end, but I think I’ll just shut up before I start ranting. Stay tuned and before long and I’m sure you’ll hear more. (But not about boar’s hair toothbrushes. I’m done with them.)


Blogger Feral Mom said...

On the plus side, maybe you can roll up those bristles in a joint and smoke them.

8:10 AM  
Blogger DoctorMama said...

I got a boar's bristle toothbrush in Germany once. Did you ever smell yours? Ewwww. Especially after running it in warm water (which you have to do or else it's stiff as, well, as boar's bristle).

11:01 AM  
Blogger E. said...

Somehow I failed to smell it, which is odd given my disconcerting habit of smelling things that logic would tell you smell skanky (witness my tongue scraper post).

I also failed to smoke it. Damn. I knew there was a reason I was keeping that thing around.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Orange said...

Sounds like it would have made a hell of a grout scrubber. And with a replaceable head, no less! Alas, it was too horrible to survive, even for smoking or scrubbing the grout.

3:34 PM  
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