What can I use instead of a plastic toothbrush?

Topics Discussed

A toothbrush made of bamboo

Bamboo can grow up to two feet in just one day! Bamboo is also a completely biodegradable material, since it grows naturally out of the grass/ground.

Bamboo toothbrush handles are therefore natural and biodegradable. Although toothbrush bristles are another conversation (in terms of the most eco and ethically friendly materials), simply exchanging plastic handles in place of bamboo material would significantly help to reduce plastic toothbrush pollution.

Eco-friendly toothbrushes do require slightly more care (in order to avoid toothbrush mold), however seeing some evidence of life on your toothbrush is an indicator of a natural material. We covered the best practices for maintaining natural toothbrushes in the link above.

The problem with plastic toothbrushes

Health Issues:

Most plastic toothbrush handles are made from thermoplastics (containing polypropylene/ polyethylene). These plastic types are known to release estrogenic chemicals, which may lead to adverse health conditions, according to some studies

Despite many toothbrush brands claiming to use BPA-free plastics, other research conducted by Biomedcentral revealed that BPA-free plastic products may in-fact release more estrogenic chemicals in comparison to plastic products that contain BPA. This is because BPA-free products often contain phthalates, which also let off estrogenic chemicals.

These estrogenic chemicals may also lead to more serious health related issues if they contact/aggravate a specific area of the mouth.

Environmental Issues:

More than 99% of the toothbrushes in the world are made from plastic. This plastic ends up in either landfills or the bottom ocean, where it can stay for a long, if not eternal amount of time.

Considering the vast range of plastic alternative materials out there, it simply doesn’t make any environmental sense to continue manufacturing plastic toothbrushes. 

Plastic toothbrushes, like all product materials in the ocean, also post a great threat to marine life. This affects the whole food-chain, including humans who consume microplastics as a result of fishes digesting plastic waste. The most common type of microplastic found in the ocean is polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

Plastic derives from oil (a non-renewable resource) which may also harm natural habitats and eco systems around the globe. Toothbrush batteries end up being disposed in landfills, which often leads to harmful and toxic chemicals leaking into water systems and oceans.

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All you need to know: Eco friendly, bamboo toothbrushes

An eco toothbrush infographic

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Can old toothbrushes be recycled?