Toothbrush from hell?

GLT reader Melinda W. wrote to me this morning about a product from Colgate – the Wisp – a single use, disposable toothbrush. It seems that it’s been around for quite a while and has been heavily promoted in the USA, but it’s the first time I’ve seen or heard of it.

While I acknowledge there may be a place for these sorts of products in (real) emergency situations, the Colgate Wisp web site appears to be geared to the young ‘n funky nightclubbing, partying crowd.

As it is, over 25 000 tons of *multiple use* toothbrushes end up in landfill in America each year – do we really need to add to the waste with this plastic monstrosity that the company says should only be used once?

Colgate Wisp – Toothbrush from hell?

And it’s not just the brush that’s a concern. According to Colgate, as you brush, “the freshening bead releases a breath-freshening liquid that is safe to swallow and leaves you feeling minty fresh.” So what’s in it? I don’t know as. I wasn’t able to locate an MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for it.

Then there’s the packaging, a bulky plastic blister pack containing 4 of the Wisp disposable toothbrushes or an even bulkier pack of 16.

There’s no information on the Wisp pages that I could find about the possibility of recycling this toothbrush or packaging; not a single word about environmental issues associated with this product.

You would think that if there was any sort of “green” aspect to this product, given their target group and Colgate’s own professed commitment to environmentally friendly practices, they would have been promoting this angle as well.

However, I did find references around the web stating the plastic resin number is #7; meaning it can’t be recycled. Supposedly this little snippet of info was in the Wisp FAQ some months ago, but it certainly wasn’t there at the time of writing this.

Like 24/7 fly spray, this product seems to me to be an environmental disaster; an exercise in hyperconsumption.

Here’s a quote from Colgate’s sustainability commitment on their corporate pages; a page they entitled “Respect for our planet“:

“A cleaner, healthy environment is important to Colgate not only because it’s the right thing to do but also because it makes good business sense.”


“Our ongoing strategy to reduce our environmental footprint will remain an integral part of producing, packaging, distributing and marketing our products.”

Fail, Colgate, Fail.

This “Wisp” in my opinion is a shocking idea, not just because of the materials used, but how and who it is being marketed to. If I was working in Colgate’s sustainability department, the company would have had my resignation the day this product was launched.

I assume my thoughts aren’t going to end up on the Wisp site’s product review page ;)

If you feel the same way as me about this product and you wish to contact Colgate with your comments about the Wisp:

Consumer Affairs: Inside U.S.
Consumer Affairs: Outside U.S.


Toothbrush recycling and repurposing tips