Sustainable Toothbrushes #SimpleSwap

Our homes and stores are not the only places where you can find those very common plastic toothbrushes. In fact, they are piling up – on the landfills. Over 4.7 billion (!) plastic toothbrushes are produced worldwide every year. Plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose, and before it does, it leaks BPA and phthalates into our food. Our skin can even absorb those chemicals just by touching plastic. Using plastic for disposable goods and packaging for things we eat has been a crazy idea to begin with.

However, with just a #SimpleSwap you can reduce the environmental impact and at the same time reduce the risks that come with being exposed to harmful substances.

Compostable Bamboo Toothbrushes

I have switched from using an electric toothbrush to a bamboo toothbrush a couple of weeks ago. It was a bit weird at first, since I had been using electric toothbrushes for the past eight years. Turned out they do make you kind of lazy and your fine-motor skills will degrade XD.

If you are using a regular plastic toothbrush, switching to a bamboo toothbrush will be a breeze.

Other Sustainable/ Compostable “Toothbrushes”

If you are the more adventurous type, you might evenconsider trying something entirely different :)!

Compostable toothbrushes and their packaging. From left to right: Bamboo toothbrush, miswak stick, Swak toothbrush and replacement brush heads

Miswak Stick

Miswak is a traditional tooth cleaning twig with many medical properties and benefits including antibacterial activity. It also contains flouride like most toothpaste and it even whitens your teeth! It is still used in mostly Muslim-inhabited areas.

To use it you have to chew the bark off one end. Continue chewing until the twig forms bristles. Brush your teeth with those bristles without any water or toothpaste. After a while you can just cut off the end with the bristles and continue using the stick until it is too short to hold it properly :D.

Brushing your teeth with miswak is said to be very effective and hygienic, which is why I bought a stick (but I still haven’t gotten around to using it…).

Unfotunately, miswak sticks are usually sold in plastic, so even though the stick itself is very eco-friendly, the packaging is not.

SWAK Toothbrush

The SWAK Toothbrush is a cross between a miswak stick and a regular toothbrush. Quite the breed, huh ;)? It has a handle just like a regular toothbrush and uses a small miswak stick where you’d expect the regular bristles to be. The handle is made from corn-based plastics, so yes, the entire toothbrush is biodegradable :).

Using it can be a bit tricky though. It takes a lot of practice – and patience I just do not seem to have.

If you want to rush across your teeth at break-neck speed you better stick with the plastic scrubbers. Once you’ve learned the technique though, the SWAK is more thorough and leaves a better mouth-feel than any other method. – Swak website

Just like a miswak stick it does not require any water or toothpaste. You scrub each tooth individually by turning the handle (left-right-left-right) in your hand, ignoring the chewing surfaces. Then you leave your SWAK out to air-dry.

Trust me, this procedure is not as easy as it sounds!! I will give it another shot though ;).

So far it is only sold in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Where To Buy Compostable Bamboo Toothbrushes

If you live in North America, you can purchase a Brush with Bamboo toothbrush (a 4-pack for $20). Brush with Bamboo uses BPA-free Soft Nylon bristles that are recyclable, but not compostable.

If you live in the U.K., you can head over to Save Some Green to buy a 3-pack for £ 8.50. You can choose regular bristles or ones made from bamboo fibres! How awesome is that?

In Australia (and New Zealand), there is The Evironmental Toothbrush, where you get a pack of 12 for only $36 (Australian Dollars). This bamboo toothbrush is vegan friendly and fair traded. It seems like the bristles are also made of bamboo fibres :).

Well, we live in Europe. More specifically in Germany. The brand we are using is hydrophil (3,90€/ toothbrush). Their toothbrushes are vegan-friendly and they donate to Viva con agua to support the access to clean drinking water worldwide. The bristles are made of biodegradable Nylon4 fibres that are supposed to decompose within 18 months. They do ship to other European countries (8,90€) and to Switzerland (15,90€).

Ecobamboo is another European manufacturer from Poland. They offer their toothbrushes for 3,50€ and throw in cheap shipping for other European countries. They, too, use biodegradable Nylon4 fibres.

I’m afraid I’m not too well-informed about other countries though. I found a blog post recommending the Australian bamboo toothbrush (The Environmental Toothbrush) in Taiwan including a list of retailers there.

If you have information on where to purchase bamboo toothbrushes, please do share :)!

3 Comments

  1. I’m now not positive the place you are getting your info, but great topic.
    I needs to spend a while finding out much more or understanding more.

    Thank you for fantastic info I used to be looking for this
    information for my mission.

    • Hi there, not sure what’s wrong with Wikipedia lol. OK, I do get it ;). I wouldn’t have quoted Wikipedia in an academic paper, but personally, I’m ok with it on the blog. If you do get some more reliable sources do let me know, and I’d love to add them to the post!

  2. Do try the miswak. I just started recently, and I’m sold. My teeth feel a lot cleaner than they did with regular toothbrushing – either the twig is a better brush than a regular toothbrush, or my technique with the twig is better than my technique with the brush, but I can feel the difference, especially on the back side of my teeth.

    And there is basically no waste – the bits and pieces of the stick that get cut off are compostable. I’m sure there is some source for these things that doesn’t stick them in plastic packaging – failing that, I’m sure an Arak tree would be a great addition to your garden. 🙂

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