Plastic toothbrushes have been in production since the 1930s and every one of those toothbrushes ever made is still in existence today. This blows my mind. Dentists recommend that we change our toothbrushes every three months. That’s a LOT of plastic pollution out there from toothbrushes alone.
Bamboo is an extremely fast-growing, sustainable material. It’s a brilliant alternative to wood and has so many different uses. It’s an incredible plant.
As you can see, we have quite a selection of bamboo toothbrushes in our house. They, as with their evil plastic evil counterparts, come in a variety of different types. You can get different bristle firmnesses (is that a word?) and you can get natural or synthetic bristles.
The Truth About Natural Bristles
The material of the bristles is a very tricky subject, upon which many companies make false claims. The most recent one I’ve heard is this:
The BEST eco-friendly, vegan bamboo toothbrush currently available anywhere in the world! UK’s First and Only Plant Based Bamboo Toothbrush
Oh, shut the front door! You’re charging £8.99 and pretending to be better than all the others. Your bristles are 38% Nylon 6. That never biodegrades, you sneaky little wretches. I hate companies being sneaky. Just tell the damn truth! They make their toothbrush sound like they’re the best out there when they’re just being crafty with their wording.
Some are made from pig bristles, which I’d personally be okay with if I knew how those pigs had been raised, however, I haven’t managed to find any companies that are that transparent with their claims. I suspect they’re intensively reared in China with little regard for the animals welfare. These bristles do just end up as a waste product if they aren’t used for something. The bristles do biodegrade and can go straight into your compost.
This is a very sludgy grey area. Some claim to be made from a material called Nylon-4. Nylon-4 is a petroleum-based plastic that is said to be biodegradable under certain conditions (ie, in a lab). Life isn’t like a lab. It’s probably not going to ever biodegrade. Some bristles are made from Nylon-6. Nylon 6 does not ever biodegrade.
I’m not sure how this would be possible. I’ve read this awesome website and she’s done an awful lot of research about the claims companies make regarding the sustainability of their toothbrush bristles. There are companies that claim to use charcoal enhanced bamboo bristles. Right. I’ve tried these and I also regularly use activated charcoal powder as part of my dental hygiene. I don’t feel like the bristles have charcoal in them.
If you want to ditch toothbrushes altogether, you could always give a miswak stick a go!