The Eco-Friendly Toothbrush!

One day in Yervada Jail, Gandhi noticed that one of his associates in the Ashram, Kaka Kalekar, was in the habit of breaking off whole branches of the neem tree even if he needed only four or five leaves.

Gandhi said to him, “This is himsa. Others might not be able to understand but you can. Even these four leaves should be plucked by us humbly with due apologies to the tree. You break off whole twigs or branches. These can be used as dutuns (country toothbrushes).”

“And then,” recalls Kaka Kalelkar, “We stopped getting datuns from outside.” I said, “Bapuji this place abounds in neem trees. I will make a nice, fresh datun for you every morning.” Bapu agreed.

The next day I brought a datun pounded one end of its into a soft brush and gave it to Bapu. After using it, he said, “Now cut off the used bit of the datun and pound the end into a brush again.” I was surprised. I asked, “But why? we can get a fresh one every day.”

“I know we can.” said Bapu, “But that does not mean we should. We do not have the right. We must not fling away a datun until it becomes too dry to be used.”