The Truth About Bamboo Toothbrushes

The Truth About Bamboo Toothbrushes

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 plastic pollution alone.

 

bamboo toothbrushes

Bamboo Toothbrushes

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.

Natural Bristles

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.

Synthetic bristles

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.

Bamboo bristles

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.

Our Bamboo Toothbrush Experience

bamboolu

 (Ignore the black sludge on my toothbrush – I make my own toothpaste, the recipe which I’ll share with you another time).

Bamboolu

bamboolu

LissyLu and I were recently sent a couple of toothbrushes to try from the lovely people at Bamboolu.  Bamboolu is a company in its infancy that is yet to open to the public.  What they will be offering is a subscription based bamboo toothbrush delivery whereby you get sent a new toothbrush every three months, as recommended by dentists.  I really like the company, the people are really friendly (which is always a winner in my eyes), honest and their toothbrushes are lovely.

LissyLu’s is different to mine, I think her toothbrush has synthetic bristles, which is fine, but hers feels firmer.  My preference is a firmer bristled brush.  I think (I haven’t tested it, which I could do with a lighter because natural bristles would burn where as plastic would melt) mine might have natural bristles.  I like it, but I do like a slightly firmer brush.  I’ve been using it all week and my toothbrushes need to be quite hard-wearing because my toothpaste is no walk in the park.

The Environmental Toothbrush

environmental toothbrush

I’ve used The Environmental Toothbrush many times.  I love that they come packaged in a cardboard sleeve, I love the firmness of the bristles, however, they don’t last five minutes for me.  I would probably need at least one every fortnight, as you can see from the photo at the beginning of this post.

woobamboo

Asides from my Bamboolu toothbrush, the one I’ve been using most recently is from Woobamboo.  I bought this from my local health food shop.  They ordered it in for me.  Had I seen it on the shelf, there’s no way I would have bought it because it came packaged in a plastic bubble.  I was really incensed by this because I can’t understand the point in creating a lovely bamboo toothbrush for sustainability then wrapping it in plastic that’s going to be around forever.  I asked them about it and they said that customers preferred to be able to see the product that they’re buying.  Sustainability minded, plastic pollution warriors and ethical customers?  Really??  I can’t help feeling that they’re trying to sell to the wrong market.

bamnoo toothbrush

This is one of the “charcoal infused” nylon bristled toothbrushes.  They were too soft for me.

LissyLu with bamboo

In Conclusion

I don’t think there is any “perfect” toothbrush.  I feel like there are always going be compromises that we will need to make on our journey to find the most ethical path.  I’ll continue using bamboo toothbrushes because for me, I prefer them to the plastic kind which stays around forever.

I’d love to hear what toothbrushes you’re using and how it’s working out for you.

Lu Lovely

11 Comments

  • Reply July 23, 2017

    Sabrina

    How long do bamboo toothbrushes last? I tend to make my plastic ones last a year 🙂

    • Reply July 26, 2017

      Lu @ALifeOfLovely

      I think it depends on the type. If you look at the photo, my one from The Environmental Toothbrush only lasted a couple of weeks, where as the WooBamboo one has been going strong for a couple of months, at least.

  • Reply July 26, 2017

    Kirsten

    I use plastic, as I can’t find a bamboo brush I’m happy with. I use a brand called Radius. I keep the handle, and just replace the heads. It’s at least less plastic going to the landfill. Still on a quest for a better brush.

  • Reply August 7, 2017

    Natalie Dickinson

    ooh we were just looking at bamboo sunglasses yesterday but I didn’t realise you could get toothbrushes too! I use electric but when my son’s current one is ready to change he’s so getting a bamboo one! Really interesting about the bristles too! thank you.

  • Reply August 7, 2017

    Elizabeth

    That is a lot of plastic made over the years! Admittedly most of our rubbish gets burnt to make heat energy to heat the houses in the town, but still, that’s a lot of plastic lying around… these bamboo brushes look like a great alternative.

  • Reply August 8, 2017

    Sarah Humphreys

    I use an electric toothbrush but have looked at bamboo ones often.

  • Reply August 8, 2017

    Susanne Remic

    Oh my goodness I’d never thought about the waste that plastic toothbrushes cause! And you’re right, we must throw away so many!! I’ve never used a bamboo brush before so its interesting to hear your thoughts. I’m not sure I like the sound of pig bristles but nylon I could do! x

  • Reply August 8, 2017

    Little B & Me

    Looks good & does good? Sounds like a hit to me.
    I’ve never actually thought of normal toothbrushes in any detail up until now!

    Thank you for making me aware xo

  • Reply November 4, 2017

    Jamie Mister Eco

    How often do you brush your teeth with charcoal? I’ve started doing some research on that and found quite a lot saying that you should limit it to the ocasional brushing and not completely replace your toothpaste with it. Also, you’re so right on the green washing of bamboo toothbrushes, on that note though, it’s still better than the traditional plastic toothbrush as at least most of it decomposes. =D. Love the photos you used also, really gave the article a personal feel.

    • Reply November 5, 2017

      Lu @ALifeOfLovely

      I use it once a week or so. It depends which toothpaste I’m using, mind you. One of my homemade toothpaste has charcoal in it so if I’m using that paste, it’s every day. I’m using Truthpaste at the moment (see my October favourites).
      Thanks for your lovely comment, glad you like the pics 🙂

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