Review: Sustainable Toothbrushes
A toothbrush seems like such a mundane item, so why bother spending time on this?!
Did you know that every plastic toothbrush ever created still exists in one form or another today?!!?
If that doesn't stop you in your tracks, I don't know what will! It sure stopped me. I'd never thought about it before, but of course, it makes sense. If plastic takes over 400 years to decompose and was only invented in the last century...you do the math. Since learning this I decided I will do everything in my power to never use another plastic toothbrush and I plan to refuse the ones they give away at the dentist's office.
Maybe when they brush my teeth at my next appointment I'll just bring my own toothbrush along for them to use? Hmmm. There's an interesting zero waste issue to tackle. (Sometimes you have to be THAT weirdo. I know, it's hard, but remember that we really can make a difference) and avoiding their little "goodie bag" of plastic items would be a sure win in the fight to use less plastic!
For those of you who still have plastic toothbrushes in your world, there are recycling programs out there....like this one through Terracycle or, if you've bought a Preserve toothbrush, you can also take it to one of their Gimme 5 locations for recycling (aka most Whole Foods locations).
Recycled Plastic? Maybe. The personal conclusion I have come to is that it's best to vote with your dollar by not purchasing any plastic products. That said, I think that if you are set on purchasing a plastic toothbrush for whatever reasons, you're first choice should be one made from recycled plastics! Like the....
These are made from recycled plastic in the good ol' US of A. They advise that you place your toothbrush in with your recyclables at the end of it's life and that it will be recycled. And, as the "Bogo" name implies, with each purchase of a Bogobrush, a brush is given through one of their partner organizations in North Dakota, Michican or Minnesota.
We've tested this one out and have found that the stand, while super cool, left us worried that our brush was going to take a tumble and end up on the floor. Gross! So we ditched the stand somewhere. Maybe when we land ourselves back home we will give it another try. My husband initially found that the bristles were stiff, but he reports they have softened up over time and now he's a fan!
The price is a bit of a deterrent though at $9.50 for a one-time purchase of the brush alone. They do give a 50% discount if you subscribe, which lowers the price to $4.75. The brush was delivered in a plastic shipping bag and a recyclable cardboard box.
So, it's not a slam dunk, but it's an option!
Preserve makes their toothbrushes out of recycled plastic in the USA and they are BPA free. They have a recycling program at various drop-off locations for used brushes (they used to include prepaid shipping for sending back to their facilities for recycling, but no longer do). Our favorite thing about this company is that it is a certified B Corp, which means that it is a for-profit company that has met rigorous standards around social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. This certification helps give you, the consumer, some guidance around which companies are doing more to serve the environment, their customers, and their workers. Pretty cool! I haven't used one of their brushes in a while, so if you give a new version a try and have any feedback, let me know!
This is another option I just discovered, which is also made in the USA.
From their webiste:
"Primarily we use bioplastics, which are derived from renewable biomass sources (like vegetable oils and timber), agricultural byproducts, or even used plastic bottles. They’re better for the environment, as well, requiring less fossil fuels and energy to produce (resulting in fewer greenhouse gases)."
They claim that their toothbrush can be used for 9 months vs the typical 3 months, which makes for less waste. In addition, the heads are replaceable, so you can retain the handle and simply dispose of the bristles. I contact their customer service to see if any further recycling options exist for the heads and they do not at this time.
Their rechargeable head toothbrushes are made in France with a handle composed of 70% castor derivatives mixed with 30% plastic. They have a recycling program for the heads of their brushes set up with Terracycle and even provide you with a shipping label. Their packaging is compostable cardboard.
And Bamboo Options? Yes!
I'll talk about the bristles below, but generally any bamboo brushes you find with have a fully compostable handle and bristles that you will need to remove and dispose of before composting.
This is by far my favorite. We tried the Wowe brush initially, but I had a whole clump of bristles come out in my mouth, so that took that off my list of favs. What I like about the Mable is that is stands up on its own, so it's able to dry out easily and avoid some of the molding that can happen with some unfinished brushes. The brush head is nice and small, which works great for me. It will likely need to be replaced every 3 months and is a little pricey if you're only buying one.
My father-in-law, who is a newbie to bamboo brushes, gave one of these a test drive and really liked it too!
We have two of these for our kids and so far so good! My 10 year old recommends not using a very powerful toothpaste like Colgate because it has stained their brushes. She thinks a more natural toothpaste would work better in combination with the brush. :)
Like I mentioned above, a clump of bristles came out in my mouth on this one, so I'm not sure we'll be purchasing again, but overall it seems very similar to the Brush with Bamboo brush. At just under $12 for a box of 4 brushes they're a pretty good deal though!
And what about bristles?
Well, there's no easy answer to this, which is why I've sort of glossed over it until the end here. The short story is that they haven't quite come up with a great solution for replacing the nylon bristles you find in the majority of toothbrushes today. So, while that bamboo handle might be compostable, you will have to tear out the bristles before doing composting and send the bristles to the landfill.
There are some pig hair (not so great for vegetarians and vegans) and plant-based combination bristles, but the fact is that it's hard to know what you're getting exactly. In the meantime, we will be keeping an eye out for any changes and bring you any updates we can get our hands on.
Anyone out there tried a sustainable toothbrush you love or any of the above and have some feedback?
Thanks for reading! ***And, as usual, there are NO affiliate links here....just our opinions!***