Oral hygiene isn’t exactly environmentally friendly. The American Dental Association recommends you toss your toothbrush every three to four months, lest frayed bristles fail to dislodge whatever gross food and plaque you’ve got stuck in between your teeth. The result is a whole lot of plastic ending up in landfills every year.
A company called Goodwell has a more efficient answer: a basic toothbrush handle designed to last forever with interchangeable heads that can be composted when they begin to fray. Portland-based industrial designer Patrick Triato calls his creation “a modern toolkit for your mouth.” The handle, which Goodwell guarantees will last a lifetime, is made out of medical-grade aluminum. The kit comes with interchangeable attachments, including a toothbrush head, a flosser, and a tongue scraper.
The attachments are made of a polished bamboo composite, and the toothbrush bristles are made out of Binchotan charcoal, a Japanese charcoal already used in some bathroom and beauty products. When they begin to wear out, you can toss them in the compost bin, rather than putting another piece of plastic in the trash.
Now for perhaps the most unexpected feature: The toothbrush contains a secret compartment. (The company claims that during research, it discovered that users loved the idea of a storage compartment in their toothbrush.) You can unscrew the bottom of the handle and put something inside. Goodwell suggests items like “dollar bills, toothpicks, aspirin, matches, and much more.” If you have to take a pill every morning, maybe not the worst idea? Or if you need to roll paper currency for, uh, whatever reason, useful, I suppose.
The company is making the design open source, so theoretically you could design your own attachments for the handle. (In case you wanted a toothbrush/flosser/laser pointer?) And because this is 2014 and why would anyone want a household item that can’t be accessed via a smartphone, there’s also a data tracking option in the works, in which an accelerometer and microcontroller in the toothbrush would track you (or more likely, your kids’) brushing habits–though of course, adding electronics would probably decrease the lifespan of your forever toothbrush. (After all, a few decades from now, we’ll probably have moved beyond things like accelerometers and phone apps and onto something new, like, I don’t know, mind control.)
At $69 dollars for a single toothbrush, Goodwell is a little pricey, even if you can take it to the grave. And that’s just with one attachment head–a yearly subscription, which comes with a new attachment every month, is an additional $79. But hey, doing right by the environment is rarely cheap.