I think by now we all know plastic is pretty bad. We’re so used to it being everywhere that we often don’t think about how much we are using and throwing away. We aren’t ever shown the alternatives, so why would it cross our minds to change?
Well here I am to help my zero waste friends! I switched over to cruelty free, zero waste toothpaste a while ago, and this got me thinking about my toothbrush too. You’re supposed to switch out your toothbrush every month (not gonna lie I totally forget and definitely don’t change them this often.. but I doubt I’m the only one, right?), making toothbrushes one of the most disposable items we’ll race through during our lifetime. AND THEY’RE ALL PLASTIC. I was literally throwing away a big old stick of plastic every month (ok like every 4 months but still). If you think about how many people there are in the world thats a lot of plastic going straight to landfill. But don’t worry guys, there are sustainable alternatives out there!
I first heard about bamboo toothbrushes a while ago, in fact Lauren Singer has written about this herself, as Trash is for Tossers reports:
‘Simply put, plastic never biodegrades because it is not part of nature’s food chain. There is a common misconception that plastic takes a really long time to biodegrade, but the reality is that as far as we can project, plastic never goes away because there is no other corresponding thing in nature that can break plastic down. Bamboo, on the other hand, is one of the most versatile and sustainable materials on earth. Bamboo can grow up to 4 inches per day with minimal water, it is naturally vigorous and does not need pesticides or fertilizers to grow, and it has the tensile strength of steel. It’s truly a gift from nature, and as we begin to replace plastic with other materials, I think we’re going to see bamboo becoming an essential part of the new green economy.’
Thanks for the info Lauren! But, while we all know Lauren is a zero-waste bae, she’s in New York, and we brits need a voice this side of the pond. With my old plastic toothbrush already on its last legs, I decided to investigate for myself.
I did a lot of searching around for bamboo toothbrushes and, whilst there aren’t really shops physically selling these right now, there really are a ton of options online. I decided to go with some From Earth to Earth toothbrushes from amazon as they were selling packs of 4 for £15, meaning I could stock up and, if they proved to be good, in future I could buy in bulk and therefore use way less shipping than buying individually. They provide a little more bamboo info on their page, stating:
‘Bamboo is the fastest naturally renewing resource and is inherently anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial meaning your toothbrush should not become home to numerous “nasties”‘
Also they come in cool colours. Wins all round. Buying four at once means that price wise these come out at £3.75 per brush, maybe this is a teeny bit more than some would pay for a toothbrush but, really, it’s not that much money is it? Then began the waiting game as I eagerly awaited my new bamboo friends!
I was not disappointed when they arrived. Firstly, the toothbrushes come in completely recyclable packaging: fully paper and cardboard so no worries there. On first arrival the toothbrushes are also very pretty, coming in blue, yellow, white and plain colours and with a really sleek, lightweight design. In fact it’s maybe the most attractive toothbrush I’ve ever owned. In terms of actual use, the very first time you use one is a little strange. Having used plastic for so long I was very used to using something with a kind of polished, crazy smooth feeling, bamboo doesn’t feel quite the same because it’s not synthetic. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very smooth it’s just a different kind of feeling to get used to. It’s not the easiest thing to describe, however it is pretty easy to move past. I started wetting the top of my toothbrush as well as the actual bristles for a little more smoothness, within maybe two days I was used to the new sensation and it hasn’t bothered me since.
Beyond this, it’s exactly the same as any other toothbrush. The only difference is it’s not going to sit in landfill for hundreds of years, it’s going to happily biodegrade back into the earth, whilst the bamboo itself can be easily and sustainably replaced to make more. Hurray! The only thing to watch out for is that the bristles, being made of nylon, are not biodegradable. The current only biodegradable toothbrush bristle out there is pig hair which, whilst sounding gross, is also a by-product of the meat industry. This immediately eliminates its use by a whole ton of vegans/vegetarians/people who don’t want to put animal hair in their mouth. There’s a lot of research going into finding alternatives right now, but ultimately it’s still better to use a product thats mostly biodegradable over one that’s not biodegradable at all.
The bamboo toothbrush is, in essence, another ridiculously easy way to cut down your impact on the planet with barely any effort required. You were already buying toothbrushes and toothpaste, why not just change who you buy them from? Imagine the impact on landfill if everyone across the world started brushing with bamboo, and change can start right here!
Until next time, stay magic y’all.