Back in the spring, on one of my normal trips to Target, I stumbled across a toothbrush while looking for a new tube of toothpaste (I’m sure this riveting story will be adapted for the big screen any day now). It was an electric toothbrush in sleek, eye-catching packaging, and what attracted me most was the fact that it was only $25. I have always been an analog toothbrush kind of guy, so I figured I’d give it a shot.
I was really impressed when I took it home and began to unbox it. The packaging was cleverly designed, with pull tabs and excellent printed materials. It included a neat plastic cover that could be used as a travel case, and also included a holder that could be easily affixed to your bathroom mirror. It even had a battery included with it! All in all, I was impressed with what it had to offer!
Of course a toothbrush is only as good as how clean it gets your teeth. My first brush with it was pleasant enough. I pressed the button, let it buzz for two minutes, brushed my teeth carefully, then rinsed everything off after the buzzing stopped and placed it back in its holder. My mouth felt nice and clean!
I must admit I had expected it to a do a bit more than just vibrate. I thought maybe the head might move back and forth in some way, or perhaps a part of it would rotate. But alas, nothing but vibrating.
Now, I’m not dentist, so I can’t say whether there is value in having your toothbrush buzz at you or not. Maybe it shakes plaque loose? Or massages your gums or something? I don’t know. But just in thinking about it, I can’t really see how the vibrating adds a whole lot to the brushing experience over a traditional non-motorized toothbrush. And after six months of brushing, my mouth feels no different compared to a typical toothbrush.
This is the point where a positive, interesting (if not particularly novel) product turned into one I probably wouldn’t recommend. In the original packaging was a note - the toothbrush head and battery refill was $5. Cool, I thought. Not bad. Turns out, this is only if you commit to a subscription service where they send you replacements through the mail on a regular basis. If you want to purchase a refill head on its own in a store, or individually online, it would cost you $10.
Quip prides itself on being an environmentally friendly product. The head of the toothbrush is the only part that needs to be replaced when it wears out, so in that sense it is more environmentally friendly than replacing an entire toothbrush I suppose, but the entire thing is still made of plastic. Even only replacing “half” a toothbrush is still replacing a bunch of plastic. And the environmental impact of mailing me a plastic toothbrush head and battery through the post every 3 months? Surely the environmental impact of that is substantially more than just going to the store and grabbing a cheap toothbrush.
I’ve recently been reading up on and getting interested in the zero-waste (or low-waste) movement, and have since been made aware of bamboo toothbrushes. You can purchase a pack of 10 bamboo toothbrushes for around $8. Unlike their plastic counterparts, they can be responsibly disposed of when they wear out, and they’re made out of a renewable resource. Environmentally speaking, they can’t be beat.
Economically speaking as well, I can get 8 brushes for less than the cost of one refill head. Any way you slice it, even though Quip is a nicely designed product, it doesn’t add much (if anything) to the brushing experience, is far more expensive than a cheap bamboo toothbrush, and has a far greater environmental footprint.
My advice? Skip the quip, grab the bamboo.