Effa is fighting the Global Plastic Pollution
I happen to feel guilty every time I finally pick up my colorful, curved toothbrush, with the bristles that alternate between soft and hard ones, with that ergonomic design, with the easy grippable rubberized plastic, just to throw it in the trash bin, once expired in its use.
I watch it slowly disappear surrounded by more waste while it lies there, still colorful and compact.
During the day, I happen to think about where my toothbrush is, what route it has taken, and how would it look like now, resting quietly at the bottom of some sea off some shoreline.
It happens, whenever the time to change my toothbrush comes.
Guided by the will to change, I recently came across Effa, the Ukrainian eco-startup that aims at saving the planet from plastic pollution by designing 100% recyclable, renewable, and eco hygiene disposable amenities. “We started with simple everyday use products that help to significantly reduce plastic pollution in the world”, says Dasha Kichuk, CEO of the family-founded startup that, together with the founder Ilya Kichuk, created the design-driven brand whose name is deliberately inspired by the Ephemera, a kind of butterfly that born and dies within just one day.
The aesthetic is lean in the shape as in the color: the clean design intentionally bares the product of any industrial colorants or additives as glues or indistinguishably paired materials, by returning a neat product that aims at “cleaning seas” as much as one's own teeth.
The lean design essentially mirrors the material innovation behind the product, which is in the composition of the body: a sugarcane-paper-based material molded by using a dry molding technology that avoids the use of water during the entire manufacturing process.
Moreover, the sugarcane pulp helps with ensuring and improving structural integrity, making the body feel sturdy and functional after use.
Apart from other brands, we don’t use bright eye-catching intrusive designs. There is already too much consumerism in the world, and this minimalistic approach symbolizes simplicity and utilitarian design
Effa’s products are not exclusively pointing out individual responsibility for environmental pollution but have strong roots anchored in facing the economic status-quo. As a matter of fact, the disposability of the hygiene product category isn’t rapidly replacing and cannot be ignored in its diffusion, especially considering users’ behaviors and the huge market of the travel/events industry: hotels, house-hosting services, hospitals, airlines, conference meetings. Those are just a few cases where one-shot products reign, and where everything is designed to be used just once, then discarded.
In How Your Toothbrush Became a Part of the Plastic Crisis, the mini-documentary by National Geographic on Youtube, suddenly shows a query on Google search engine that says: “How often should I buy a new toothbrush?”. By using the USA as a benchmark, the narrator answers “three to four months, so with the 300 million Americans, that’s 1.2 billion toothbrushes being thrown away just in America. That’s enough to wrap around the world four times.”
The accountability of designers in this process is highly pointed out, while it is suggested to embrace the holistic thinking behind the product conception, in general.
Since 2018, Effa has expanded its reach, by standardizing the toothbrush body (the first product they developed) and applying it to Effa Razor, which has slavishly followed the footsteps of its “ancestor” in being 100% recyclable and renewable.
How Effa works
The product is designed to be entirely dismountable and recyclable for separately material typologies.
By analyzing the market niche of disposable and eco-friendly products, the team then focused its efforts on an intuitive while aesthetically pleasant design that could make it easy for the users to be part of a virtuous product cycle.
Regarding the brush, the paper body can be detached from the medium-soft Nylon head, by dismantling it in the plastic bin (the brush head is made of PBT Nylon — the same as many with bamboos or wooden bodies), as well as the plastic razor head that can be separated from the blade.
Indeed, during the product research phase, they observed that toothbrushes that are made of natural raw materials, also "have nylon bristles that are fixed in the wooden body. It's easy and comfortable to use it as long as you wish, but when it comes to recycling, there might be a challenge."
Moreover, it was highlighted that those could "absorb water, and when you use a wooden toothbrush for a few weeks, it can soak up bacteria”, making the act of redesign a kind of a historical challenge between the old models and the refining of the newest.
Last but not least, the packaging “closes” the cycle.
Made exclusively of paper, it dissolves in water, thereby making sure that the entire product is environmentally-friendly from start to finish.
Apart from brushes and razors, Effa is continuing to develop new products such as q tips, soap, and others that will be announced soon, which are conceived with the same inputs as the two first articles.
In the very end, while Effa keeps working on the environmental issue, the whole team is now happening to work on supplying Effa toothbrushes as humanitarian help all over Ukraine, in order to help the refugees to stay clean and comfortable, as much as possible. They start by sending 1000 toothbrushes.
Let’s keep an eye on them!