Industrial designer Patrick Triato founded Goodwell Co. in 2015 to build a more sustainable toothbrush. The manual brush he came up with, the $25 Premium Toothbrush, features a recycled aluminum handle and a changeable, biodegradable brush head—a design that Triato hoped would cut down on the 50 million pounds of plastic produced by toothbrushes every year. The company soon expanded to make the entire tooth care process more environmentally friendly, releasing a toothpaste in a bio-resin, recyclable tube, and plant-based flossers. But among the expanding lineup of oral care products Goodwell offered, one staple was missing: The electric toothbrush.
“Customers were giving us feedback that they loved our products, but their dentists were recommending they use an electric toothbrush,” Triato says. “When I looked into the market, it was like ‘oh wow, there’s literally nothing in the electric toothbrush market that’s remotely sustainable.'”
The solution is Goodwell’s Be. Brush, the winner of the wellness category of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Idea Awards, is a cordless, battery-free “electric” toothbrush system that will begin shipping in late 2021. The body is made from hard, durable plastic. Inspired by watch design, the product uses a spring-loaded, windup motor to power its oscillating brush head.
“I had some wacky ideas at first, I tried an air pressure motor and a solar motor,” Triato says. “And then I came upon watch mechanics, and saw how a spring could drive a motor and the motor could drive the head.” The resulting product is a sturdy, analog brush that uses a familiar mechanism: Simply wind it up like a watch or tin toy, and it will buzz with the same efficiency as its electric counterparts—and can be taken anywhere,
Developing the product has been slow; after working up a proof of concept, Triato took the idea to Kickstarter in October of 2017, where it quickly raised more than $400,000 in backing funds. The three and a half years since have been complicated by the brush’s intricate motor, which has more than 65 components inside. But after securing an experienced manufacturer, Goodwell expects to begin fulfilling its 11,000 pre-orders this summer, where the toothbrush should retail for $125 and will ship in late 2021.
It may well be worth the wait: While the Be. Brush’s heads will need to be replaced every few months for hygienic reasons (like any toothbrush), the body itself should last for a long, long time. “We expect it to work for 10 plus years, though we’re working to validate that right now,” McArthur says. “Once a battery [in an ordinary electric brush] starts degrading, it degrades very quickly. But when our spring starts ‘degrading,’ it just lasts for slightly less time. But it will still be a giant steel spring, and will still keep working long after that.”