After plastic straws, this entrepreneur wants plastic toothbrushes to disappear


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Are you eating plastic?

Individuals are turning towards plastic straws. Christina Ramirez needs them to consider one other piece of plastic they use on daily basis — the toothbrush.

The motion to ban plastic straws is being backed by huge companies like Starbucks (SBUX) and McDonald’s (MCD).

“I have been ready for this second for years,” mentioned Ramirez. “Plastic is dangerous for the surroundings and in your physique due to chemical compounds in it. Why would you wish to put it in your mouth?”

She is not referring solely to straws.

Ramirez is an entrepreneur. Her startup, Plus Extremely, has been on a mission over since 2012 to lift consciousness about one other throwaway plastic merchandise — toothbrushes— and change them with toothbrushes constituted of bamboo.

She launched Plus Extremely whereas working as a Entire Meals staff member in Venice Seaside, California.

plus ultra toothbrush plastic
An individual, on common, will use 300 toothbrushes throughout their lifetime, or about four per yr, in keeping with Plastic Air pollution Coalition.

However the concept for it had been percolating in her thoughts for even longer, going again to a school paper she wrote as a world research main at College of California, Santa Barbara.

It was about lowering plastic waste by reimagining the traditional toothbrush in an eco-friendly manner by changing the plastic deal with with a naturally grown, biodegradable materials like bamboo.

At the moment, the Plus Extremely bamboo toothbrushes she debuted in 2012 are offered in additional than 320 retail shops in 22 states, together with Entire Meals and Amazon.

“Similar to plastic straws, we use toothbrushes a number of occasions a day. Similar to straws, they find yourself in landfills and oceans and we do not take into consideration their dangerous impression,” mentioned Ramirez.

So whereas the world’s consideration is on the perils of plastic straws, she needs toothbrushes to rapidly develop into the opposite shoe to drop within the race to curb the buildup of hundreds of thousands of tons of world plastic waste.

The amount of plastic in oceans is anticipated to triple in a decade. Round 150 million tons of plastic are already floating in our oceans — with an extra eight million tons coming into the water annually, in keeping with the World Financial Discussion board.

It is estimated that by 2050 there can be extra plastic than fish in our oceans.

Associated: Starbucks is eliminating plastic straws from all shops

Ramirez mentioned her Sherman Oaks, California-based enterprise has offered a whole bunch of 1000’s of bamboo toothbrushes in the US (she will not present the particular quantity for aggressive causes).

She estimates these purchases have helped preserve a minimum of 1,000 tons of plastic waste from coming into landfills and oceans.

bamboo toothbrushes
Plus Extremely toothbrushes are fabricated from bamboo handles and nylon bristles.

In accordance with advocacy group Plastic Air pollution Coalition, customers on common will use 300 toothbrushes throughout their lifetime (four toothbrushes per yr). Every of us may even throw away about 12 kilos of plastic toothbrushes in that point.

“These discarded toothbrushes aren’t recycled they usually do not biodegrade,” she mentioned.

The Plus Extremely bamboo toothbrush is not recyclable, both, as a result of bamboo cannot be recycled, mentioned Ramirez.

“[But], total it’s 99% biodegradable, aside from the dentist advisable nylon bristles and steel staples,” mentioned Ramirez, 33, who added that the bamboo deal with can also be compostable. “Our toothbrush nonetheless must be efficient. We worth excessive performing merchandise, in addition to the surroundings.”

Previous to launching her firm, Ramirez labored in a advertising and marketing job for just a few years, which taught her about the best way to construct a model, do shopper analysis, and develop advertising and marketing and distribution methods.

plus ultra toothbrush christina ramirez
Christina Ramirez, founder and CEO of Plus Extremely.

Three years later, the Los Angeles native left that trade for an sudden transfer.

With recommendation from a member of the family, she determined to go all in to pursue her eco-friendly toothbrush idea.

Associated: Adidas joins combat towards plastic

“I took a job as a cashier at a Entire Meals as a result of I needed to work at a retailer the place I might see my toothbrush being offered sooner or later,” she mentioned. It paid $11 an hour with no regular work shifts.

It was an enormous pay minimize from her earlier $40,000 annual wage and advantages. She might solely afford a 350 square-feet shoebox residence together with her new pay — however couldn’t pay for a automobile.

“So I would stroll to work on daily basis,” she mentioned.

To make ends meet, she took a second job as a receptionist at a neighborhood yoga studio.

At Entire Meals, she moved up rapidly to develop into a division purchaser, amongst different roles increased up the rung. “I used to be with Entire Meals for 4 years and used the chance to actually perceive how retail labored,” she mentioned.

On the aspect, Ramirez bootstrapped (via her personal cash and with assist from her household) the prototype for her bamboo toothbrush. She discovered producers in China and ordered 80 samples and examined them with dentists and included their suggestions.

bamboo toothbrushes stores
Plus Extremely toothbrushes show at Entire Meals.

In 2011, she took $three,000 from her 401(Okay) plan and flew to China to satisfy with producers. As soon as she locked in her provider, she pitched her bamboo toothbrush to Entire Meals the next yr.

“I used to be already a Entire Meals worker and buyer and now I needed to develop into a vendor, too” she mentioned.

Entire Meals signed on.

Within the first three years, she equipped Plus Extremely toothbrushes (priced between $three.99 to $7 every at retail) to 33 Entire Meals shops in California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii. She’s as much as 55 shops now and expects to exponentially develop her distribution to Entire Meals shops nationwide by subsequent yr.

The startup, which has three full-time and three part-time workers, is worthwhile and generates between $1 million to $2 million in gross sales a yr, she mentioned. And thru a partnership, the enterprise had expanded its gross sales staff to over 100 gross sales reps.

Associated: Are you consuming plastic

Toothbrushes are the tip of her bamboo life-style model.

Ramirez needs to broaden to different merchandise discovered within the toilet.

“We’re creating bamboo journey covers for toothbrushes so you do not have to make use of the plastic one,” she mentioned. Razors made with bamboo handles is one other concept.

“In 5 yr, I would love for us to be even larger with a full assortment of eco-friendly merchandise that give customers an inexpensive different to utilizing plastic merchandise,” she mentioned.

CNNMoney (New York) First revealed July 21, 2018: 11:25 AM ET

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