GreenPanda toothbrushes are on their way to being a sustainable product and company. They have some environmental awareness and have some transparency but there is plenty of room for more! Overall, they should aim for their whole company to be designed as cradle-to-cradle rather than just their toothbrushes.
Mao Zhu Bamboo: “GreenPanda’s handle is made from 100% Mao Zhu Bamboo, sustainably sourced for it’s natural strength, elasticity, and antimicrobial qualities”
Bristles: “Luxuriously soft nylon bristles, sustainably sourced from the castor bean plant”
Packaging: On their website, there is not very much info about the toothbrush packaging. It looks like it is made from recycled cardboard and a bit of plastic, although that is a big assumption. They also don’t have any obvious communication about recycling on the package itself.
This product is made in the USA and is only delivered by ground shipping which means that transportation emissions are minimized. Their factory is in New York State (NYS) so it creates local jobs that meet NYS labor law standards and NYS minimum wage is about $15/hour, a much higher rate than most states. On their website, they actually show some clips of the factory and how the toothbrushes are made. I love this transparency! They also have their location on google maps and encourage people to call at any time (0.75 planets earned for the transparency of their production factory).
The two materials in the toothbrush are Mao Zhu Bamboo and nylon from castor beans but GreenPanda does not explain how or where they grow/produce these materials or the packaging. They also don’t discuss the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions they create during production. Therefore we don’t know if their factory uses renewable energy or what kind of transportation emissions they create. This comprises about half of the ‘how its made’ category because it would tell us about the farming and transportation aspects of production which could be over half of the supply chain (therefore, this is at least 2 planets that will not be earned for this category).
A note on Lifespan: Bamboo toothbrushes last a VERY long time which fulfills the first R, ‘reduce’, of the three R’s. They are supposed to last for 3-4 months and since a package comes with 4 that would last at least a year. I have a bamboo toothbrush and it has already lasted over 4 months and the bristles aren’t even frayed yet! (0.25 planets earned for reduction of consumption).
GreenPanda is a family-owned and operated company with four main values/missions. They prioritize the cleanliness of the planet, they aim to meet a high quality of oral care while still being environmentally friendly, they have the goal of decreasing ocean plastics by making their product compostable, and they produce all of their product in the United States. Also, they claim to be “panda-approved” because they use bamboo that pandas don’t like to eat. Also, GreenPanda partners with an organization called Abilities First to help different-abled people gain employment.
Many of these goals are fulfilled simply by the product being in existence. Their company goals are fantastic but I think they have the ability to go a bit farther (although it is a relatively small business which may pose some challenges). For example, they have no information about the carbon emissions of their factory and if they did, they could make a commitment to offset those emissions. Also, they have a great, cheap product so I am wondering if they have any commitments or initiatives to reach low-income/disenfranchised communities. Lastly, by saying it is “panda-approved” and using a panda in their name and logo, it makes it seem like they contribute to panda/habitat restoration. In reality, they do not, which means they are being falsely suggestive.
On Amazon: Their product is sold on Amazon which has much different values and missions than GreenPanda. Selling on Amazon does somewhat undermine GreenPanda values but it also increases the accessibility of the product which is a hard trade-off to evaluate (although the product is more expensive on Amazon).
Overall, I am giving this company 2.0 Planets. To me, a completely sustainable company/product is one that actually improves the environment and livelihoods. This company makes an effort to decrease environmental impact but not to make the environment better. They have the disability initiative but nothing to reach those who might not be able to afford their product. Overall, they are pretty sustainable but they can do more to improve the world rather than just minimize their impact.
All quotes in this review come from GreenPanda’s website: https://www.greenpanda.eco/shop/toothbrush-xljff