Making It Work: Eco toothbrush firm looks to clean up waste in oral hygiene market

Irish firm Bambooth aims to capture the anti-plastic zeitgeist with its bamboo toothbrushes and toothpaste tablets

14th May, 2021
Making It Work: Eco toothbrush firm looks to clean up waste in oral hygiene market
Bambooth was set up in 2019 by Niamh McGill and Joe Finnegan. Picture: Barry Cronin

An Irish sustainable toothbrush company is seeking to disrupt the dental industry with a conservation-led approach to oral hygiene.

Bambooth was set up in 2019 by Niamh McGill and Joe Finnegan and is headquartered in Ashbourne, Co Meath. It aims to deliver a more sustainable product than the ubiquitous plastic toothbrush with “no sacrifice on performance or style”.

Last June, it won funding from Enterprise Ireland through the Competitive Start Fund and is the only company selling bamboo toothbrushes with the approval of the Oral Health Foundation in Britain.

As well as its toothbrushes, which come in four colours, all linked to Bambooth’s ethos of conservation and sustainability, the company has begun selling toothpaste tablets. These are a more environmentally friendly alternative to regular toothpaste, which is often sold in non-recyclable plastic tubes.

The products have been taken on by both Whole Foods and Supervalu, among a number of stores and healthshops across Ireland and Britain.

“We’re probably selling in about 150 shops at this point, and we’re also selling through our own website,” McGill said.

When the pandemic hit, Bambooth was forced to pivot away from bricks and mortar retail, at least temporarily. McGill said the company has managed the transition well.

Last October, it launched a subscription service which delivers a new toothbrush to customers every two to three months. Adult, child and family pack subscriptions are available with prices starting at €4.49 for a single adult toothbrush every two, three or four months. One-off single toothbrushes are priced at €4.99, with a pack of 60 toothpaste tablets available for €5.99.

The company is planning to launch a funding round by the end of this year, McGill said, though it has yet to decide how much investment to seek. She said it was aiming to become a global leader in the dental sector within five years.

“We’d like to be competing with the big players in the game,” McGill said, adding that Bambooth isn’t just about oral hygiene.

She and Finnegan, her partner, have a “shared love of the outdoors” and the company has partnered with conservation charities for the sale of its toothbrushes.

McGill said she first had the idea for the product while living in London, when she and Finnegan noticed how much they were recycling. Toothbrushes, at the time, were a glaring example of a non-recyclable item in their home.

After deciding to start the business, the pair planned the design of the toothbrush while travelling in a camper van in New Zealand.

“We have always sought to bring an ethos of sustainability to the company. We are hoping that the brand will stand for a shared love of the outdoors. There are billions of toothbrushes made annually, and billions of plastic tubes for toothpaste,” she said.

“Our health, and the health of everything on this planet, depends on a healthy ecosystem. Anywhere where there’s room for change, or change-makers, is a good place to be. We’ve just gotten our foot in the door, and this is the ideal platform now to bring real change. There’s huge scope for improvement.”

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