How does something as seemingly unassuming and ‘everyday’ as a little toothbrush have the power to make a big difference in the world? Just ask the newly certified and fully Australian-owned bamboo toothbrush business, Big Little Brush.
These fine folks sell beautiful bamboo toothbrushes and donate 50% of profits to help fund primary health programs in remote Indigenous Communities across the country. But how did we get here? For Co-founder, Joel Hanna, it all started with a busted wisdom tooth. Now, this is a story we need to hear…
Image: Big Little Brush
Firstly, congratulations on certifying. Before we go any further though, you have to tell us the rest of this now infamous wisdom tooth story!
As I share on our website, the story of Big Little Brush all started with a busted wisdom tooth that soon turned into an agonising toothache — and after putting it off — eventually a hefty dentist’s bill.
It wasn’t access to health care or lack of education that stopped me from getting treatment. It was apathy. I’d let my health and quality of life deteriorate, because I knew I had a safety net. I ignored the issue for as long as it suited me.
I quickly realised that the outcome of my story would have been very different if I lived in a developing country, or even a remote community here in Australia.
Thankfully, there is research that suggests fixing the oral health of the most vulnerable and marginalised communities in the world could have a significant positive impact on overall outcomes.
And is it true that you also found some pretty damning statistics about the waste created from toothbrushes?
The really bad news is that every plastic toothbrush ever made still exists today.
For most of us, owning a toothbrush feels like a given — but the icky plastic ones pretty much always end up in landfill, and they take up to 600 years to break down.
In some ways, the solution is simple: swap to a bamboo toothbrush that’ll only take about a year to break down instead of 600. So far, we’ve prevented over 13,000 plastic toothbrushes from making their way into landfill or our oceans (by replacing them with bamboo ones). But we wanted to do more than that – beyond creating a beautiful and sustainable brush, we also wanted to give a little back.
Tell us more about your business impact model.
We believe that access to primary health care is a fundamental human right. That is why every brush purchased contributes directly to supporting health and hygiene projects in remote communities.
We use our profits to support organisations such as Red Dust who deliver health promotion programs. Overall health outcomes contribute to improvements in education, workplace participation and the overall global economy.
What does B Corp certification mean to Big Little Brush?
We’ve been a huge fan of some other amazing B Corps for ages, some crews you’ll recognise: Patagonia, Who Gives a Crap, Koala, KeepCup, The Better Packaging Co., Stone & Wood, Bellroy, 4 Pines, memobottle, and so many more – so it’s an honour to join their ranks.
Certifying as a B Corp was our opportunity to not only demonstrate the ‘do good’ parts of our business, but to give ourselves the best shot at doing it well, into the future. We’re proud that our impact spans from access to primary health education, all the way to helping the oceans become free from plastic pollution.
Not only do we see B Corps making beautiful products and experiences, but having the B Corp tick of approval means that people can be confident buying from them because they know they’re taking their social and environmental responsibilities seriously. We’re bloody loving it!
Are there any business practices that you hope become the norm in your industry?
A practice we would like to see become the norm is for businesses to realise that everything they do can have a positive or a negative impact. The only difference between ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ impact is simple: the cumulation of small choices.
The way we see it – positive impact is achieved through small choices along the way that can enable a sustainable future. While we’re more than just a little bit pleased with ourselves for achieving certification, a pretty rad thing about being certified is that you have to commit to continual improvement, year-on-year. It’s not just about being great, it’s also about getting better!
We’re the first to admit that we’re not perfect, and that there’s still so much we want to do to make the world better. But I can say that we’re constantly looking for ways to get better and partner with experts in the field.
Lastly, do you have a final tip for aspiring B Corps about achieving certification?
Stick with it, it’s well worth it. Also, please know that you don’t need to be perfect from day one, but you do need to be committed to improving over the long term.
Congratulations to the newly certified Big Little Brush and a big thank you to Co-founder Joel Hanna for sharing his insights. Have you recently certified and would also like to feature on our blog? Fill out these questions and we will be in touch to share the news!
Thinking of becoming a B Corp?If you want to know more about joining the growing B Corp movement, sign up to find out more about our upcoming ‘Becoming a B Corp’ workshops.