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According to this Times of India report, on an average, around 150 million plastic toothbrushes are added to the trash every month. Most of us don’t even think about the toothbrushes we discard, but the fact is that these sit in landfills forever and release toxic chemicals as they decay.
As is the case with many products, companies around the world have begun to manufacture biodegradable, plastic and BPA Free, eco-friendly toothbrushes, and closer home, K Teja, a 13-year-old boy from the Dharmavaram village in the Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh, has also joined the bandwagon.
However, a remarkable quality about the toothbrush manufactured by Teja is that it is not just eco-friendly, it has also been made using all-natural materials that come from his backyard!
Speaking to TOI, Teja said that after understanding the consequences of using plastic toothbrushes, and unwilling to further contribute to the toxic heap of the imperishable waste, he wanted to make something gentle for both humans and the environment.
Teja tried to create a toothbrush from various types of wood, and finally, decided to use a dried twig of the pumpkin plant for the handle of the toothbrush. This is because pumpkin is grown in kitchen gardens in his village, and the twigs are widely available. Additionally, the material is light.
Teja fashioned bristles for the toothbrush from palm-tree fibres, as he felt they would be soft on the gums. Next, he needed to fix the bristles to the brush, and instead of using glue, he joined the two by punching a hole into the dried twig, polished it and then inserted the bristles.
Teja mentions that the bristles on his invention can be used at least ten times, after which the brush needs to be replaced. Teja is working on a solution which will permit a user to change just the bristles and not the whole brush.
The teenage innovator from Andhra Pradesh recently showcased his project at the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR), rural innovators startup conclave, and won appreciation from visitors and participants alike.
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Biodegradable toothbrushes are a great boon to the environment no doubt, but need to be used on a huge scale for any significant impact. Let us hope Teja’s designs find their way out of Andhra Pradesh, and present themselves to the world!
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)