Bamboo Toothbrushes- Are they really worth it?
Across social media, I have noticed a huge trend in people swapping out their plastic toothbrushes for the seemingly more environmentally-friendly bamboo toothbrush. All of these swaps got me wondering... are bamboo toothbrushes really making a difference? ...and are they really worth it?
Follow me on my deeper look into bamboo toothbrushes!
In a shocking statistic, 1 billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away every single year in the U.S. This number of toothbrushes is enough to stretch around the Earth FOUR times and contributes 50 million pounds of waste to landfills (Foreo, 2020). The bristles on toothbrush heads are most commonly made out of nylon, which emits a significant amount of nitrous oxide throughout the process of manufacturing. Just a reminder- nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas that is 310x more potent than carbon dioxide.
At first, I couldn't believe that staggering statistic about 1 billion toothbrushes being thrown away each year in the U.S. alone. But when I got to thinking, it makes sense. Consider how many people get a new toothbrush every time they visit the dentist, or when they go on a vacation. All of these short-lived uses of plastic toothbrushes have built up to an unbelievable amount of waste.
So... is bamboo the solution?
Overall, my research tells me that yes, a bamboo toothbrush really is the environmentally-friendly option. The packaging and handles of bamboo toothbrushes are usually compostable and biodegradable. Likewise, bamboo is a fast-growing crop that doesn't require the use of pesticides and fertilizers. This is a stark difference to plastic toothbrushes that are essentially "indestructible, [meaning that] nearly every single toothbrush made since the 1930s is still out there in the world somewhere, living on as a piece of trash." (Borunda, 2019).
In many cases, however, bamboo toothbrushes still have nylon bristles. This means that you need to remove the bristles before disposal or compost. The world of bamboo toothbrushes is continuously evolving, so it is important to check a specific company's materials and see what their recommendations are for disposal.
What can you do?
Give a bamboo toothbrush a try- and make sure that you follow disposal instructions!
Choose a brush that lasts longer (has a reusable handle)
If you're set on keeping a plastic toothbrush, a good option is to send your toothbrushes to Colgate/Terracycle Recycling Program- which accepts old Toothpaste tubes and caps, toothbrushes, toothpaste cartons, toothbrush outer packaging, and floss containers. And its free! Read more at this LINK.
Try to get rid of plastic in your other oral hygiene practices- such as toothpaste tabs rather than plastic toothpaste tubes.
Not sure which brand is best for you to start your bamboo toothbrush journey?
-I found this article to be extremely helpful.
-It outlines some of the best bamboo toothbrushes of 2020 and gives you plenty of info on each!
-View at this LINK
A brief history on the toothbrush we now know today: