All you need to know: eco-friendly, bamboo toothbrushes

Five reasons to invest in an eco friendly toothbrush:

1. BPA-free bristles – Non-toxic and recyclable

2. 100% compostable packaging – No plastic waste

3. Biodegradable handle – Deriving from environmentally sustainable bamboo timber

4. Supporting sustainable living – Own a zero-waste, natural toothbrush and reduce plastic waste

5. Bamboo contains natural antimicrobial agents – No fertilizers or pesticides are used during cultivation

Five interesting facts about bamboo toothbrushes:

1. A natural bamboo toothbrush will last as long as any plastic toothbrush

2. Panda’s don’t eat Moso bamboo, so no food sources are taken away from them

3. Bamboo toothbrush surfaces are coated in a completely natural wax to maintain a smooth finish

4. Most bamboo toothbrushes are made with a compostable handle, i.e. it can be disposed into a municipal or compost

5. Since bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, no bacteria will ever grow on the handle

A billion toothbrushes will be thrown away in the U.S. this year, most of them plastic.

The total number of plastic toothbrushes being produced, used, and thrown away each year has grown steadily since the first one was made in the 1930s, according to the National Geographic.

Many toothbrushes are un-recyclable since the composite-based plastics are difficult, if not impossible, to break down.

The number of plastic toothbrushes both produced and disposed of each year has continued to increase since the the 1930’s.

Research conducted by Communications Biology revealed that plastic in the oceans also harms prochlorococcus, the marine bacteria responsible for producing around 10 % of the world’s oxygen.

Of the plastic the researchers found, a large proportion included: toothbrushes, food packaging, straws and plastic bags. “Single-use plastics made up roughly 25 % of the material.”

How do you dispose of a bamboo toothbrush?

– Removed the bristles using either a pair of pliers to pull them out of the bamboo, or else carefully break the head of the toothbrush off.

– Compost the bamboo part of the toothbrush by disposing of it in a compost heap either domestically or locally.

– If you don’t have access to a compost heap then separately dispose of it into a bio/organic waste bin.

– If your bamboo toothbrush contains nylon bristles, these can be recycled. Although the plastic amount is very little, embracing the full eco experience is a what it’s all about!

Also, you can:

Re-use it!
Once your toothbrush has served its purpose, there are multiple ways that you can continue to get use out it, including cleaning, marking, and art related activities. 

Here we discussed general bamboo toothbrush maintenance in more detail.

Biodegradable handles: How long do they take to decompose?

This will depend on factors such as soil composition and compost bin type, however for most compost bins, this should take between 4-6 months.

Bamboo toothbrushes could break down within a few weeks if disposed of via an industrial composter.

The perfect conditions for a bamboo toothbrush handle to biodegrade is in warm and wet soil.

Do dentists recommend bamboo toothbrushes?

In an interview with the Bamboo Brush Society, when asked whether or not bamboo toothbrushes should be adopted on a wider-scale, Dutch dentist Paul Govers said:
“If you would see the amount of plastic I need to throw away for each patient… It’s ridiculous. The less plastic the better. It would be great if more products for dentists would be eco-friendly as there are no real alternatives at the moment.”

Paul went on to say he uses a bamboo toothbrush “every day.”

Are bamboo toothbrushes really better for the environment?

Making sure that the handle of your bamboo toothbrush is biodegradable is the first step to achieving dental sustainability!

Some bamboo toothbrush bristles may contain nylon-4/6,  recyclable PBT or bamboo viscose (still BPA free).

It’s very difficult to find a completely plastic-free toothbrush. The perfect toothbrush, i.e. vegan, compostable, and 100% plastic-free doesn’t exist (maybe with the exception of hydrophil brushes).

Despite this, we can still ensure that we use the most eco-friendly toothbrush material options that are available.

Are bamboo toothbrushes bad for pandas?

Panda’s don’t eat Moso bamboo, so no food sources are taken away from Panda’s if the bamboo toothbrush that you own derives from Moso bamboo. Rest assured, most bamboo toothbrushes materials derive from Moso bamboo. 

The WWF highlighted the fragility of forest bamboo resources in China, emphasising the need to purchase bamboo sustainably.

“Panda’s mountainous forests continue to be degraded by people harvesting bamboo. Harvesting medicinal plants provides many families with an important source of income, but it also places additional pressure on the fragile forests”.