The average person will use about 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime. Your toothbrush is most likely one of the first things that go into your mouths every day and the last thing every night. Brushing our teeth is an essential part of our daily hygiene. It keeps our teeth healthy and boosts our confidence.
But while taking care of ourselves, it’s important to take care of the environment too. So using a zero-waste toothbrush is the best way to ensure that your oral hygiene is not putting the environment at risk.
If you walked into a store to buy a toothbrush and find something made of bones and pig hair, you'll most likely find it shocking. But the first real toothbrushes looked exactly like that. The Chinese Emperor Hongzhi designed the first bristle toothbrush. He made the handles from bone or wood and used pig hair as bristles. Before this invention, both the rich and poor - even the buddha used chewing sticks to brush their teeth.
Europeans took the idea of bristle toothbrushes and made their version, using horsehair or feathers instead of boar hair. William Addis designed the toothbrush that modern designs were now modeled on in 1780. He carved the handle out of cattle bone and made the brush part with boar hair.
Toothbrushes used to be a luxury item that only the very wealthy could afford. This was because the materials used to make them were fancy and expensive. In the early 1920s, only 1 out of every 4 persons owned toothbrushes in the United States. Everyone else had to use chew sticks, their fingers, or pieces of cloth.
It wasn’t until the early 20th century that manufacturers began to use nylon and other kinds of plastics to make toothbrushes. The 1930s marked the existence of toothbrushes as we know them. Using nylon in toothbrush production started in 1938. The plastic toothbrushes were cheap, and almost everybody could then own one. However, it was until the end of world war II that they became universally popular in the united states. When the soldiers who had learned to religiously observe dental hygiene returned home, they influenced the surrounding people.
Today we have both manual and electric toothbrushes in different shapes, sizes, and textures for adults and children. Typically, they make the handles with plastic and the bristles with nylon. A study shows that people would rather live without cars or cell phones than give up using a toothbrush. Our toothbrush is important to us, and it's time to choose a sustainable way for our future use.
You probably use 3 or 4 toothbrushes a year; seems inconsequential, right? Actually, your toothbrushes have a substantial environmental impact. Beach cleaners collect 20-100 toothbrushes on Hawaii beaches per session, and if we looked hard enough, we could find every plastic toothbrush ever made since the 1930s. This is because plastic is not biodegradable; it may disintegrate but will not decompose. Since the average person uses 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime, billions of toothbrushes end up in landfills and the oceans every year. Here are some reasons to switch to zero waste toothbrushes:-
This is a serious environmental issue that affects humans and wildlife. Plastic lasts for hundreds of years, polluting ocean waters and endangering our health. Millions of animals, including birds and fish, are killed by swallowing or getting entangled with plastic every year. Toxic microplastics find their way into the bodies of fish and from there to the human body.
If everyone followed the advice of the FDA to change their toothbrush once every three or four months, we would have around 23 billion plastic toothbrushes discarded toothbrushes each year.
One problem with plastic toothbrushes is that they are unrecyclable. They make them with composite plastic that is extremely difficult to break apart, and the small parts just get stuck in the recycling machines.
On the other hand, we can easily separate zero waste toothbrushes to recycle or upcycle them.
Zero waste toothbrushes are eco-friendly, ethical, and sustainable. They make a high percentage of them from sustainable bamboo, which is a fast-growing plant. Many companies prefer to use Moso Bamboo, a variety not eaten by pandas, which grows faster than others.
Another source of material for these eco-friendly toothbrushes is the castor bean. Here they use oil from the castor bean to produce a kind of nylon — nylon-6, this kind of nylon is biodegradable. You’ll also find boar hair used for bristles, and it is biodegradable and sustainable too.
Often brands make zero waste toothbrushes by hand. Even when we manufacture them in large factories, the process doesn't negatively impact plastic production.
Before you check out our list of zero waste toothbrush brands, here are some tips to guide you in finding the one that's just right for you.
Tip 1: toothbrushes with smaller heads can reach all areas of the mouth, including the back teeth, which are usually harder to get to. They're the best size for kids.
Tip 2: toothbrush handles come in unique designs to suit different people, so get one that fits comfortably in your hand. Without a good grip, you may injure your gums. If the store has samples out, test the grip. If you can't access samples, you may be able to get a feel by holding objects with a similar shape.
Tip 3: make sure you are not allergic to any of the toothbrush materials. They make most zero-waste toothbrushes of bamboo and nylon bristles. Most people prefer the nylon-6 because it is biodegradable even though it may take a long time to decompose. Some brands, however, use hair from animals such as the boar.
NB: Some of these bamboo toothbrushes may have paint or chemical dyes on them as print or identification codes, usually in negligible amounts. But if you have any issues with that, toothbrush options exist with laser or handmade engraving instead of print.
Here is a list of the best zero waste toothbrush brands to choose from. Below you will find some information on materials, ethics, and sustainability. As well as a detailed description to help you make the right choice.
Brush with Bamboo manufactured the first plant-based bamboo toothbrushes. They make the plant-based bristles using castor bean oil, which the USDA certifies as 100% bio-based.
They make Brush with Bamboo products in the EU. The product comes in an individual pack made entirely of paper with no tape or glue. The Brush with Bamboo pack is fully compostable. Brush with Bamboo advises customers to rinse the toothbrush before and after use thoroughly.
This bamboo toothbrush is designed especially for children from ages 3-7. The nylon bristles are soft and contain no BPA, and it is excellent for a child’s delicate gums. The toothbrush comes in four colors.
They recommend storage in a dry and airy place and if you decide to use a holder, use an open-air holder. The pack has no plastic and is glue-free; it is suitable for compost. The bristles, however, have to be removed before you use the handle for compost. The company says the extracted bristles are not waste as they can recycle them. This product also has cruelty-free and FSC certifications to prove its ethicality.
This 4-pack toothbrush kit comes with a bamboo travel case. The travel case has holes at the top and bottom to allow unrestricted airflow, so there's no odor or molding. It can only hold one brush at a time. The other item in the kit is a jar of charcoal and mint-infused bamboo fiber dental floss. The jar has a cutter at the top that makes getting out the floss stress-free.
To make sure you can distinguish the brushes, they mark them with a unique number of leaf symbols. The bamboo charcoal fiber bristle is soft and has no BPA.
This 4-pack product is available in different designs for adults and children. They number the brushes to prevent people from mixing up their toothbrushes because they look the same. The bristles are soft, made from nylon, and contain no BPA. They make the handle with contours to ensure a firm grip. The handle is also water-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about moisture spoiling it. They make the packaging from 100% recycled material, and it is plastic-free. One issue is that they manufacture the product in China. You need to consider the carbon cost of the air miles it would cost to get to you.
This brush comes in individual Kraft paper packages, perfect for travel or if you are trying out a bamboo toothbrush for the first time. The bristles are made of BPA-free nylon and have a slightly wavy surface. They color-code the product to signify bristle hardness. The black and white brush has medium hardness while the grey brush is soft.
You can use and store the toothbrush the same way you use the plastic kind. Since the color of bamboo is always the same, they color the lower part of the toothbrush. This helps with identification if the entire family uses the product.
This toothbrush is 100% vegan. The soft nylon-6 bristles are made from castor oil. This product is handmade, and they carve the handles straight from bamboo. The brush is recyclable, and its elasticity makes teeth washing a smooth experience. The brush heads come black, cream, brown, and white. This can help family members distinguish which is theirs.
The company strongly advises against storing the product in a pot or tooth glass because stagnant water can damage your toothbrush. You also have to rinse it after every use; preferably with hot water, and store it in a dry and airy place.
This toothbrush is one item in Vida natural’s eco bathroom kit. The kit contains one grapefruit soap bar, a wooden soap rack, a sisal soap pouch, bamboo cotton buds, a bottle of bamboo charcoal dental floss, and one bamboo toothbrush.
Vida makes everything in the kit using natural ingredients, is sustainable and vegan friendly. They make toothbrushes for kids and adults and have a variety of colors you can choose from. They package the kit in recycled paper. If you are ready to make your bathroom routine zero waste, this product provides you with a starter pack.
Inspired by rainbows, this brand tries to inspire happiness with its rainbow-colored bristles. They make the soft, BPA-free bristles from Dupont nylon. They make bamboo toothbrushes for adults and kids. The toothbrushes come in individual packs with detailed recycling instructions written on the back. The handle is made from Moso bamboo and is both reusable and compostable. You will need to take out the bristles before you can compost them or use them as a gardening tool. The wooden handle is moisture-resistant, so you can use and store your rainbow brush the same way you would its plastic counterpart.
If you prefer to use charcoal products for your mouth care, this toothbrush has charcoal-infused bristles. The bristles are soft, made with nylon, and do not have any BPA. One pack contains four pieces, and they number each one. The pack will last one person all through the year. They pack it in a recycled paper box with no plastic. The company produces toothbrushes for adults and kids. They design it uniquely to get to hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. The bamboo is water-resistant and does not splinter. You just need to rinse and store the toothbrush after use, and there is no need to let it dry out. The products are certified as being cruelty-free and vegan by PETA.
Are you thinking of giving someone zero waste toothbrushes as a gift? This brand makes it easier by packing its product in a cardboard box wrapped beautifully with a bow. Despite the fancy appearance, the packaging does not contain any plastic and is reusable. There are six completely identical pieces in each box. You have the option of choosing soft or medium bristles. The handle, wrapper, and box are biodegradable.
The company donates 5% of the proceeds on every order to support tree planting all around the globe.
With charcoal-infused ultra-soft bristles, this bamboo toothbrush is suitable for people with delicate gums. It is water and splinter-resistant, so feel free to use it the same way you use plastic toothbrushes. The toothbrush is BPA-free and numbered for easy identification since they do not differentiate them with color. It comes in a pack of six, with each toothbrush individually packed in a smaller box. The single pack is a perfect gift for a friend who wants to try a bamboo toothbrush for the first time. The packaging and bamboo handle are 100% biodegradable, but the nylon bristles are not. So they advise customers to remove the bristles before composting.
A zero-waste toothbrush brand just for kids is a great way to start your children on a sustainable lifestyle. Each pack contains four pieces with color on the bottom of the bamboo handles so your kids can always identify theirs. Individual packing makes it easy to travel with and store without worrying about contamination. They make the soft toothbrush bristles with BPA-free nylon infused with charcoal. They treat the product with heat to ensure durability and further process it to give it a non-slip grip. It can absorb moisture, so you need to keep it in a dry and well-ventilated place.
Dentists developed the products for this Swedish toothbrush company. It has BPA-free bristles made from nylon-6 and a slightly indented curved bamboo handle. The brand has products for adults and children. There are five toothbrushes in each colorful pack. The toothbrushes do not have numbers but have different colors of bristles for easy identification. They make the packs from recycled materials; it is FSC certified and is 100% compostable. They also say that their product is 100% biodegradable, bristles and all. The company uses a portion of its proceeds to support oral care outreach programs all over the world.
This company assures you that their toothbrush is 99% biodegradable. They use recycled material to pack their products. The nylon bristles are infused with charcoal; they are soft and contain no BPA. The Moso bamboo handle is round and smooth. Each pack has four pieces in it, and each has a different color on the handle to help you distinguish one from the other. The paint also helps to prevent mold from growing on the toothbrush. The company says you can remove and recycle its toothbrush bristles. They also have toothbrushes for kids aged 2-7. The products are made in china, so you might want to consider the carbon cost it will take to get to you.
This product is entirely plastic-free. It has its bristles made from boar hair, sourced from a special breed. They boil the hair to make it clean and straight. The bristles are less abrasive than nylon but equally firm. With wooden handles, the toothbrush is entirely plastic-free and fully compostable. This Gaia guy toothbrush is not vegan since it uses an animal product, but it is sustainable as the materials are renewable. The paperboard tube container is plastic-free. There are six pieces in each pack, and there's no numbering or color-coding to distinguish them from one another. So if you intend to buy Gaia guy toothbrushes for the entire family, you'll need to make permanent marks for easy identification.
Like most zero-waste toothbrushes, this product has a visible bamboo handle. The handle doesn't splinter. It is also waterproof, so you don't dry it after use. They designed the handle to have a soft wave shape for easier grip. It has soft needle-shaped nylon bristles that are BPA-free. The toothbrush comes in a pack of 10, 5 with white bristles and the rest black. It is a brilliant choice if you are buying for the entire family. The packaging is plastic-free, made from Kraft paper, and completely recyclable. Plus, if you are big on organizing, they number these bamboo toothbrushes in pairs for easy identification.
Plain bamboo toothbrushes get a boost of style with this brand. The soft plant-based bristles are made from bamboo charcoal. The bristle head has two colors and an inwardly curved surface. The handle will degrade easily, but the bristles will not, so the company advises that customers should separate the bristles from the handle before disposal. The product comes in a pack of six, with each toothbrush placed in a smaller pack. Although the packaging is a bit much, they make it with Kraft paper, which is not harmful to the environment. You need to keep the toothbrush in a dry and airy place so that it lasts long.
We do not have a planet B, so it is essential to care for this one home of ours. If your toothbrush can affect the health of the environment so profoundly, then you can make a difference. Plastic, no matter how small, can keep polluting the environment for hundreds of years. Switching to a zero-waste eco-friendly toothbrush is a minor change that could make a big difference to the state of the planet.