Sometimes sustainable design is not about creating new objects — it is often more effective to promote, re-design, or even re-package an existing product. Lebanese designer Leen Sadder probably came to this conclusion after developing “THIS Toothbrush“, a project for her masters at New York City‘s School of Visual Arts. THIS aims to re-package and promote – through an ad campaign and website – the Miswak tooth-cleaning twig as an organic, biodegradable, portable and chewable toothbrush and toothpaste all-in-one.
The school’s brief was to re-design the concept of the first object students threw out after class, and for Leen Sadder it was an empty tube of toothpaste. After exploring the history of toothpaste, its relationship to the toothbrush, its varieties, human habits, and making many fancy prototypes, she stumbled across a tooth-stick called the Miswak and came up with THIS. The Miswak is a tooth-cleaning twig, which is commonly used in the Middle East, Pakistan and India. Traditionally, the top is bitten off with every use to reveal soft bristles similar to that of a toothbrush.
The design is natural, biodegradable, and sustainable in terms of natural resources, as there is no need to use water with THIS. The product already existed, but it has never been introduced to the contemporary American audience, who would probably find the idea a bit weird. So the designer came up a cigar-cutter-like plastic cap that peels off the outer layer to reveal the natural bristles, and then slices them off after use to protect the stick from germs and microbes. Brilliant.
Photo © Leen Sadder