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 :)!
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.
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 :)!