“We all use toothbrushes,” says Will, co-founder of Floe Oral Care. “And everyone throws them away”. That’s part of the reason he and his Barcelona-based colleague, Javier, decided to start their business.
Will and Javier’s mission is two pronged: To improve the nation’s oral health and to reduce the dental industry’s toll on the environment. Eighty five percent of millennials have undetected tooth decay.
That’s perhaps not surprising when you learn that almost half of adults miss some of their teeth when they clean. Floe wants people – starting with millennials – to do a better job, cleaning thoroughly morning and evening, and flossing once a day.
Making things sustainable is perhaps even more important. “Because of the pandemic, there is probably more plastic in the world now than there was before,” says Will. There are 4.7 million toothbrushes produced each year and the problem is building.
Toothbrushes can’t be recycled at home since they require specialist treatment. That means many of them will eventually end up in the world’s oceans. There may be three or four different types of plastic in any one toothbrush, and each of these plastics needs to be separated before anything can be done with them.
Subscribe to oral and environmental health
Floe Dental Care is the first ‘circular’ oral care subscription box in the UK. Not only is every single part of their product recyclable, Floe also ensures that it does actually get recycled. Subscribers therefore make a pledge to commit to their oral health and the environment.
Sign up to a quarterly subscription of less than £25 for a beautifully designed box delivered straight to your door four times a year. The box comes complete with two tubes of toothpaste: One for morning (Dawn) and one for evening (Dusk). The tubes are made from sugarcane which feels like plastic. But as it grows, sugarcane actually removes CO2 from the atmosphere.
The idea is that on receiving a new package, customers simply drop their old products back into the box and return it for processing — completely free of charge.
Once separated, the plastic parts get melted down into plastic pellets for use by companies looking for more sustainable solutions for their products. But why not simply use a bamboo toothbrush? Surely that’s more energy-efficient than making and recycling millions of plastic ones?
Will thinks not. “Even bamboo toothbrushes have nylon bristles”, he says. That’s not to mention the fact that the bristles tend to come off in your mouth with some of the cheaper ones on the market.
Oral health is important
Will seems to be a man on a mission, and I was interested to know whether the pandemic had impacted their business plan. “Health is more of a theme than it was at the beginning of the year, he says, “and people are buying more online. But they are also snacking and drinking more, and not visiting dentists”. This has only made their mission more pressing.
Is it worth it? Do the maths and you’ll find the subscription box costs £7.99 a month. That does seem rather a lot, but according to the Oral Health Foundation, Brits already spend £16.34 a month on dental products.
Floe believes there’s no point in spending lots of money on dental treatments if you’re not looking after your teeth properly in the first place. Build good foundations and the rest will follow.
That’s the belief of Will and Javier. “When you get to the backend of your 20s,” says Will, “you start to realize you’re not bulletproof”. Floe takes the line that it’s all about creating sustainable habits.
Floe into the future
Things certainly seem to be going well for Floe Oral Care. So will they stop there? No way! If you love the product, keep your eyes open for an electric toothbrush (coming soon) and a platform that connects patients with dentists.
The brush simply has to be the most comfortable brush I have ever used. The bristles are soft but there are lots of them. It feels as though they are able to penetrate my teeth very effectively. The toothpaste is flavoursome and the texture is good. I especially love the lavender-infused Dusk. But I would prefer a fluoride-free option myself.
The dental floss comes in a glass jar and it’s easy to cut off the piece you need. On top of that, the tubes and jar look stylish in the bathroom. Though the package is a little pricey, I would recommend it to anyone wanting to improve their dental hygiene and look after the planet.