Toothpaste tubes currently are impossible to recycle. Industry giant Colgate has spent five years developing a recyclable tube, which it plans to launch in 2020. But Bite founder and CEO Lindsay McCormick doesn’t think that’s enough. Her company is a on a mission to become the world’s most sustainable oral care company by completely revolutionizing the industry.
Lindsay McCormick is the founder and CEO of Bite.
Rather than producing toothpaste, Bite makes low-waste, tube-free oral care bites that are 100% gluten-free, vegan, cruelty-free, and free from harsh chemicals. Just chomp on one before you brush, and the mint-like pellet acts in the same way that toothpaste does to clean your teeth and freshen your breath. Bites are housed in sustainable glass bottles and shipped in recyclable packaging, with refills offered in compostable pouches. The company also just launched Brush by Bite, a one-of-a-kind bamboo toothbrush made with a naturally antibacterial bamboo handle and a detachable head for easy travel and the promise of a waste-free future. The toothbrush is made to reduce waste with 50% less packaging than most brushes, and is sent to customers with zero plastic packaging.
Unable to find travel-friendly, plastic-free alternatives to the toothpaste she was using, McCormick enrolled in self-taught online chemistry courses and talked with every dentist and dental hygienist she could find to come up with an idea. She made her first Bite tablets in her living room on a hand-press tableting machine as a way to reduce her personal environmental footprint. Her early customers consisted mostly of family and friends who shared her passion for sustainability. But once a social media video went viral, sales skyrocketed overnight and McCormick quit her full-time job to launch Bite, which now has more than 20,000 loyal subscribers and 100,000 customers.
McCormick took online chemistry classes to come up with Bite tablets.
“I have the best job in the world,” says McCormick. “I get to spend all day, every day fighting for a cause I believe in. At Bite, our mission is to end the one billion plastic toothpaste tubes that end up in our landfills and oceans every year and to keep harsh chemicals out of our bodies and ecosystems. Every day is a new opportunity for me to move the bar for sustainable business practices higher, not only for ourselves but for other companies in our space as well.”
McCormick says she has been obsessed with sustainability and conservation since she was a little kid. Instead of asking for toys or clothes on her birthday, she would ask her parents to “adopt” animals in her name through organizations like World Wildlife Fund and the Oceanic Society. She wrote her senior thesis in college on tropical rainforest deforestation. As a TV producer, she travelled all over the US and the world. This is when she realized how unsustainable one of her most routine daily habits was: Brushing her teeth.
Because Bite was bootstrapped and committed to sustainability from the outset, and hasn’t taken money from any VCs, the company can be uncompromising in their choice to always put the planet first. “As a result, we have been able to attract and work with incredibly talented people who are as bold and as committed to sustainability as we are,” says McCormick. “The path isn’t easy but it is definitely fun.”
Bite is committed to sustainability in its products and packaging.
The biggest challenge Bite has faced is doing something that is totally out of the norm. From the product (toothpaste in a tablet form), to the ingredients (vegan, sulfate free and palm oil free), to the glass bottles and aluminum lids, to the toothbrushes, to the paper shipping tape (when plastic is customary) – everything that Bite does is different. As a result, at first, McCormick always hears, “It can’t be done.” But eventually, she finds the common ground. “When I first started, the process used to crush me,” she says. “Every little thing felt like a crusade. But now I go into meetings and calls expecting to be told no and just hope that I can make a case good enough for them to see otherwise. I see it all as part of my job and my challenge to help make sustainability the standard.”
“Every person on this planet has something they would move mountains for,” McCormick says to people looking to align their career with their life purpose. “Leaning into that and creating from that place is where your superpower lies. Being able to solve a problem in a space you care deeply about is the magic sauce that will keep you going through the never-ending obstacles that pop up. Because my love is for the planet and conservation, when things feel too heavy, I re-watch Plastic Ocean or Cowspiracy. I go for a run on the beach and pick up trash – anything to reset, re-energize and remind myself of why I am doing what I’m doing. No matter how you feel you can make a difference in this planet, lean into that and you’ll have the world on your side.”