Single use plastic is a popular discussion topic right now. Many companies are no longer using plastic straws because of the gross amounts of waste, but what about plastic toothbrushes? With all this talk about single use plastic and how it’s getting shipped off to other countries, dumped in the ocean, effecting other cultures and animals, I decided to do a little more research myself. I learned that almost 5 billion plastic toothbrushes are disposed of worldwide and they will never biodegrade. They will continue to pollute our oceans and sit in landfills, leaking plastic toxins into our environment. After some online research and discussions with my patients I learned about brushing with Bamboo toothbrushes. When looking at bamboo brushes you need to do your research because not all of them are as eco friendly as they say. The top two rated bamboo brush companies I found are; Brush with Bamboo and Mother’s Vault. These brushes are plant based from the handle, bristles and even the wrapper and box.
Brushing with Bamboo:
This company is a Green America certified business. The handle is 100% compostable but the bristles are not. It’s very difficult for a company to make a toothbrush without using nylon in the bristles. The bristles are made up of 62% castor bean oil and 38% nylon and it’s made in the USA (1). These bristles are the most advanced biobased bristle in the world today, but unfortunately still not biodegradable. This company harvests their bamboo from mountains in china, where is it grown without chemicals or irrigation. After they harvest the bamboo, it only takes two years for a new one to grow to full size! The packaging is also compostable.
“This is an all-natural, organic based company that focuses on finding the most environmental way to create products” (2). This company is based in California, and they make the Mao bamboo toothbrush. This company’s brush is made of 100% real biodegrable bamboo, but the bristles are made of 100% BPA free nylon. The nylon bristles make it a little less sustainable than Brushing with Bamboo, but otherwise equivalent. This company’s packaging is also great, and actually even better for the environment than Brushing with Bamboo as it has no inner wrapping. This company also donates a portion of sales to EarthJustice charity.
The design of both of these brushes is very similar. Many of the reviews I read explained the brushes were comfortable to hold, brush heads were a normal size for adults, maybe a little big for children and overall people had a great brushing experience. If you choose to try a bamboo toothbrush, here are a few special details on how to take care of your bamboo brush and dispose of your brush that are important.
How to properly store them:
It’s important to remember that bamboo is a natural material, and keeps best when stored in a dry, open-air toothbrush holder, do not store them in an enclosed case. How often will you need to change it? With proper care a bamboo brush will last the traditional amount of time, 3 months or when frayed.
How to properly dispose?
The different parts of the toothbrush are disposed of separately. The bristles are not biodegradable so they need to be removed with pliers and put into the trash. The bristles are so small and lightweight curbside recycling won’t work. Yes, they will go into landfill but will only result in less than 0.01 ounces of plastic waste, which much less than traditional plastic toothbrushes(1). The handle can then be composted and will turn to soil within 6 months, or feel free to re-use it in a creative way.
The use of Bamboo to make these brushes is great because Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth and contains naturally- occurring antimicrobial agents. This means there is no need for using fertilizers or pesticides during cultivation. If you’re currently using a manual plastic toothbrush, I encourage you to try one of these bamboo brushes as they can easily be ordered on Amazon.