Just because you tossed that plastic toothbrush in the trashcan, it doesn’t mean it’s actually going away.
Each year, 50 million pounds of plastic toothbrushes wind up in landfills…and that’s just in the U.S.A. alone. Well, Bogobrush is out to change that – our bamboo toothbrush is not only beautiful, it’s also biodegradable! You can read more about our mission to become a 100% biodegradable toothbrush here.
What inspires Bogobrush designer and co-founder, John McDougall? Surprise.
The clever design of the Peel Lamp, by YOY, creates a sense of curiosity and surprise in a simple package. It makes you rethink the boundaries of your space, and suggests the idea of something intriguing beyond your walls.
We’re teaming up with Designed Good to benefit Center for the Arts, Port au Prince in Haiti. Three years after their country was ravaged by a terrible earthquake, the people of Haiti are still trying to recover. Our mission is to to enrich the lives of students and educate them in an effort to inspire them through art and design. For every Bogobrush purchased through Designed Good, a student also will receive a new Bogobrush. If you’d like to give, go HERE and pre-order your Bogobrush today!
Last weekend, David and I flew to Utah to bring Bogobrush to the first annual Green Dentistry Conference, held at the Sundance Resort (you know, Robert Redford’s resort, that film festival resort, up in the mountains!) I hadn’t been there before, so it was especially cool to me…and Bogobrush was a hit, of course, which made the experience even better.
Anyway, here is a photo journal of the trip. Enjoy!
Traveling from MSP to SLC
We left Minnesota to its May 2nd blizzard, and flew into the sunny Salt Lake Valley. After the flight, we drove an hour through the city and into the mountains before arriving at the resort.
The Sundance Resort is nestled in the mountains, and at each turn is a reminder of the land’s true essence. The buildings are all made from reclaimed wood, and there are touches of old western life all around. There’s even a little general store – the Hot Damn Pickles really were damn hot, but also damn awesome.
The conference was two days of networking, education, food, and fun. Ina Pockrass, The Eco-Dentistry Association’s co-founder, and her small team of two great gals brought in several presenters who spoke about everything from high tech dentistry, to meditation, to marketing a dental practice as “green.” In a world like dentistry, where infection control and material efficacy are crucial to a practice’s success – both in the eyes of patients and government regulation – a perfectly “green” dental practice is not possible right now, however, if dental practices make the best choices they can, the needle can continue to point in a greener direction.
Beginning of Beautiful Friendships
For Bogobrush, the conference was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the interests of dental practices, and to begin new collaborations with dentists and their communities. Specifically, plans are in the works with a practice from Pittsburgh and with a practice outside Portland, Maine. More details are sure to follow!
Last Day: Our Morning Hike
Of course, we couldn’t leave Sundance without taking advantage of some amazing hikes. These photos are from our hike to Stewart Falls. We saw plenty of wildlife and beautiful scenery and also enjoyed some great conversation. My dad, (remember? he’s a dentist,) was an attendee at the conference, so we got to spend some quality time with him, too!
If you’d like to learn more about The Eco Dentistry Association, click here.
At Bogobrush, we have our sights set on creating a toothbrush that is completely biodegradable. As Kermit the frog said, “It’s not easy being green,” and we can certainly attest to that, but we know that even if the path isn’t always as straight or smooth, the time we put in will make for the best possible product for all of us…and our planet.
One of the most challenging aspects of designing Bogobrush has been the search for the ideal bristle material. We searched high and low – everything from natural fibers and animal hairs, (which harbor bacteria and make pretty poor toothbrushes,) to complicated bristles with coatings of gold. We were initially delighted when we discovered Nylon 4 filament, which seemed to be the perfect material blending our strict performance standards with a biodegradable end-of-life. Unfortunately, after another round of investigation, it became clear to us that Nylon 4 bristles simply are not commercially ready. Toothbrush manufacturers that had initially touted the material had either changed their tune or changed their claims, and it was clear that we needed to adapt.
Frustrated, but not discouraged, we partnered with a facility right here in the USA to help us get Bogobrushes set up with the highest quality Nylon Tynex bristles currently available. This means that every Bogobrush will clean teeth like a champ, but it also means that our mission to find a completely biodegradable bristle material continues. We will keep searching, and with your support, we can continue demonstrating a demand for better bristle materials and work with manufacturers to innovate and bring better products into the world. For now, you can still compost your handle, just take out your pliers and pull out those bristles.
With every decision about materials and processes, we use life cycle analysis to evaluate the environmental impact of resource acquisition, manufacturing, transportation, use, and end-of-life. Being green may not always be perfect or easy, but together we will continue to improve not only Bogobrush, but the sustainability of us all.
We at Bogobrush want to extend our thanks to all of you for your kind words and encouragement. The Beautiful-Green concept is a new groove that takes many people committed to walking that path, and your support is the reason we are where we are today. Stay tuned for more updates on our journey, and if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What inspires Bogobrush designer and co-founder, John McDougall? Minimalism.
Startup Weekend Fargo, March 2013
Startup Weekend is one of the world’s leading catalysts for startup creation and entrepreneurship education. The model is simple: gather entrepreneurial minded-folks to pitch, build, and present brand new businesses…all within 54 hours. They call it “experiential learning.” Startup Weekends happen all over the world, and have inspired more than 30,000 individuals so far.
Needless to say, I was pretty honored that they asked me to be the opening presenter for Startup Weekend Fargo.
To serve as inspiration for the attendees, I spoke about entrepreneurship as a vehicle for solving problems through business. Specifically, I talked about how Bogobrush is designed to solve several problems: toothbrush design problems, environmental problems, and social problems. Our goal is to make the world a better, more balanced place, and Bogobrush is a tool to help us achieve that. I really had a blast presenting to the group, and from what I could tell, the group enjoyed an inside view of our team’s inspiration and motivation.
After I spoke, more than 30 ideas were pitched and voted on by the 70 attendees in order to narrow the list down to a handful of projects that would become the focus of the weekend.
From that point, the attendees formed teams, and worked almost non-stop the remaining two nights and two days.
The weekend concluded with a final event at the Fargo Theatre – a super cool, art deco theater, complete with organist and all!
To open the final event, entrepreneur Phil Soran spoke to the audience about his experiences from beginning as a middle school teacher to starting two tech companies that were eventually sold for a total of nearly $1.5 billion dollars. His story was definitely the inspiration to keep moving an idea forward, because big things do happen when you keep working for it.
After all of the presentations were complete, the winning teams received Startup Weekend beakers.
Of course, I’m sure winning was great, but to me it seemed that the real goal was to provide an opportunity for entrepreneurial hopefuls to learn the nitty gritty of what it takes to start a business. While it may be unrealistic to truly build a working business in a weekend, I’d have to say it seemed like fun was definitely had by all. :) I know I’m glad that I was there to see it.
This week, as we are making our way through our first order, there have been a lot of conversations about design. At Bogobrush, we are constantly striving to achieve a balance between design ideals and reality, which leads to challenging dialogue about what to push what to compromise.
When I was in architecture school, I was one of those design students who breathed design. I lived in studio, poorly nourished and always tired. One day a “non-design” friend asked me why I did it. I answered simply “Because I love it.” Then he asked a question that stopped me cold: he said, “wouldn’t it be better if instead of putting all this energy into how something looks you just built homes for everyone?” I didn’t have an answer as to why making something beautiful mattered; especially in the face of serious problems in our world. By comparison, beauty seemed shallow and insignificant.
I went on to graduate, practice architecture, and carve out a fulfilling career. However, the echo of my silence that day stayed with me. Years after that simple question was posed, I still had no answer as to why beauty mattered.
In 2008, I traveled to Ethiopia, and there, scattered along the Ethiopian hillsides, was my answer. In a country ravaged by poverty and disease, someone took the time to make something beautiful. I realized that day that the “why” didn’t matter, because somewhere deep within us lies the desire to make our world beautiful and that desire does matter.
At Bogobrush, we believe that what motivates people more than money and deeper than survival is beauty. We are working hard to build a company that makes the world a more beautiful place while making everyday objects more beautifully…we do this simply because we believe beauty matters.
Until next time,