Keep the handle, swap the bristles. An idea as simple as that can help reduce the waste from the roughly 1 billion plastic toothbrushes discarded in the USA alone. Rather aptly called the Disposable Head Toothbrush, this oral-care device from the mind of Abtin Valerie Design Studio features a sustainably designed two-part toothbrush that allows you to snap on a replaceable bristle-head onto your toothbrush handle. After months of use, instead of discarding the entire brush, just pop off the bristle-head and replace it with a new one. Just this one simple design detail helps cut down on plastic waste by over 50% because you’re now more likely to hold onto that toothbrush handle for multiple years! Combine this with the fact that this toothbrush is, in fact, made from bio-plastic and you’ve got the double-whammy of reduced waste and eco-friendliness!
Designer: Abtin Valerie Design Studio
For Abtin Valerie Design Studio, the challenge was less aesthetic and more technical. “This challenge required an attachment that must be durable and robust to ensure little to no movement when in use”, say designer-duo Abtin Zafar-Doagou and Valerie Kate Tiongco who co-founded the London-based studio together. “The aim was to form the design through research, utilizing replaceable heads and a uniquely modern aesthetic whilst keeping the tooling costs as low as possible.”
Designing tolerances and an entire supply chain for bio-plastic can be quite challenging, but Abtin Valerie Design Studio had toothbrush-makers Ola Bamboo to bring their experience to the table. The toothbrush was designed for Ola Bamboo, who specialize in bamboo-based personal care products. Although a new approach for both parties, the result turned out to be rather elegant in both aesthetics and technical functionality.
The two halves satisfyingly snap together, locking firmly in place with minimal tolerances so the parts don’t wiggle or wobble while interlocked. The fixture is so robust that the bristle-head will never accidentally disengage, and the only way to really pull the halves apart is to release the snap mechanism on the underside.
The Disposable Head Toothbrush’s design is a combination of ergonomic and minimal. The black and white colorway works rather well in my opinion, and the two halves become totally seamless once they join together, creating visual unity. The snapping mechanism is constructed in a way where the engineering detail hides on the underside of the toothbrush, away from sight… and as good design-thinking would have it, the snapping arms create a bump on the bottom of the toothbrush, which causes the bristle-head to float above surfaces when kept on countertops or shelves. This effectively minimizes the bristle-head’s chances of touching any unknown surfaces, keeping the entire solution cleverly hygienic too!