The Best Sustainable Toothbrush Options
As with all plastic, plastic toothbrushes don’t ever degrade, so it’s time to replace your plastic toothbrush with a more sustainable teeth cleaning device! There are a few options available, including toothbrushes made from recycled plastic and toothbrushes made from bamboo.
Bamboo toothbrushes are the most advertised of eco-friendly toothbrush alternatives and there are some great options available, but there is also a lot of misinformation about them on the Internet and some are poorly made.
You’ll want to get a quality one, as some of the super cheap ones and the ones being given away for free aren’t smooth, have that wooden ice-cream stick taste (*shiver*), and tend to get soggy.
Really 100% Compostable?
Some companies advertise their bamboo toothbrush as being 100% compostable, but this is often not the case as the bristles of these toothbrushes are not biodegradable or compostable.
My Plastic Free Life has a very interesting article on the truth about biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes that explains that they are only completely compostable if the bristles are made from pig hair, which could be a problem for you if you are vegetarian or vegan or are sceptical about supporting the Chinese meat industry, as the pig hair used is a by-product of this industry (you can read the whole article here).
If you are not bothered by this and see the use of this by-product, which would otherwise be wasted, as a good thing, you can get one of these and compost the entire thing. They can be bought online here.
Otherwise, a compostable handle is better than a wholly non-compostable brush! You just need to be aware that you’ll have to remove the head or the bristles before composting it.
Tried and Tested
Some good, recommended AU options include:
Go Bamboo (find it here)
Bamkiki (find it here), and
For those in the US/Canada, Life Without Plastic is launching 100% compostable wooden toothbrushes with a handle made from sustainably harvested beechwood and bristles made of pig hair (a byproduct of the meat industry in China) soon.
There are many other options, but these have been recommended to me and these companies are honest about their claims of biodegradability. Not everyone agrees on which is best, with it coming down to personal taste, so you may need to try a few before you find your fav.
Bamboo is not the only option when shopping for a sustainable toothbrush; toothbrushes are also being sustainably made using recycled plastic, corn, and wheat straw.
Some good, recommended, non-bamboo AU options include:
Preserve toothbrushes, which are made from recycled yoghurt pots and can be sent to Terracycle to be recycled again after use (find it here), and
The Natural Family Co. Bio Toothbrushes, which have a biodegradable handle made from corn starch (find it here).
To pair with your eco-friendly toothbrush, you can also get eco-friendly floss made out of natural materials.
The ECO Floss (AU) is made from cornstarch and coated in candelilla wax. It is vegan friendly and comes in a little glass bottle, which only needs to be bought the first time as package free refills can be bought to refill it.
Dental Lace refillable dental floss (US/CAN) is made from mulberry silk and also comes in a little glass bottle with refills.
I would not recommend using charcoal toothbrushes or toothpastes as the claims that activated charcoal removes plaque and stains and prevents cavities and bad breath have not been substantiated by any scientific studies or evidence and its use may be harmful to teeth. Dentists warn against using it and say that it can strip teeth of their enamel.
Don’t put your dental health at risk – your health comes first, so research and speak to your dentist about what the best toothbrush option for you and your teeth is.
If you do decide to stick to plastic toothbrushes for health reasons, plastic toothbrushes can be recycled, although not through general recycling. In Australia, this can be done through Terracycle; however, unfortunately, electric toothbrush heads cannot be recycled at this stage. More info on Terracycle’s oral care recycling program can be found here.
Natural and homemade toothpaste is another step you can take to free your dental routine of waste; however, these are mostly not recommended by dentists as most don’t contain fluoride, which they say is important for teeth health. You can read more on this and find out our low waste toothpaste recommendations in our Is Your Homemade, Zero Waste Toothpaste Ruining Your Teeth: How Effective is Homemade Toothpaste? article.
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