If you’re looking to banish plastic from your bathroom, your dental care routine is a great place to start. We could wrap the Earth four times with the plastic toothbrushes the US is adding to landfills this year. I think we can all agree it’s past time to find a sustainable toothbrush.
What luck! These exist, and we’ve broken down our favorites for you.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking a link on this site, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!
The Best Sustainable Toothbrush: The List
Grin is a New Zealand-based company that launched in 2015 with all natural toothpaste, and has expanded their line to include sustainable toothbrushes, floss, and other oral care items.
We love them because their bristles are soft and infused with activated charcoal. They sell bamboo-handled toothbrushes – which is an eco-friendly go-to – as well a plastic-free biodegradable option. Made from cornstarch, the handle can be composted industrially. If your public works department doesn’t offer industrial composting, you can at least rest assured this won’t live in a landfill for hundreds of year
In the sustainable toothbrush yearbook, Mable wins Best Looking by a landslide. Add a little flair to your counter with these bamboo toothbrushes, which won’t even require a holder.
The bristles are a very soft, BPA-free nylon and recommended for sensitive teeth and gums.
Finally, the paint on the bottom of the brushes is non-toxic and the packaging is plastic-free.
Pair your eco-friendly toothbrush with a sustainable toothpaste. Here are our favorites.
The Humble Co. is “for healthier people – on a healthier planet.” YES! We can all get behind that, and fortunately, their awesome dental hygiene products make it easy and affordable. Their toothbrushes are made of bamboo and BPA-free nylon, but their wise design cuts way down on waste.
Purchase a set of the brush handle and three replacement heads, available in soft bristles, or buy a five-pack of medium-bristled brushes. Whatever your preference, you can feel good about that purchase, because The Humble Co. donates oral care products to a child who needs them every time an adult toothbrush is sold.
Brush with Bamboo is one of the most well-known, well-reviewed plastic-free toothbrush brands. The handle is made from wild grown bamboo, the bristles are made without fossil fuels (they’re USDA Certified bio-based), and even the packaging is made of paper and compostable. Additionally, these eco-friendly toothbrushes (with soft bristles!) last just as long as their plastic counterparts.
Georganics makes our favorite eco-friendly toothpaste and their sustainable toothbrush doesn’t disappoint, either. This brand zigs from the traditional bamboo handle by crafting this brush from beechwood from Sweden, another fast-growing, sustainable option. The bristles are made from BPA-free nylon, and while these are not compostable, that handle is. When it’s time to switch brushes, just snap the handle from the head and throw it in your compost bin, along with their plastic-free packaging. All other materials are biodegradable, according to the company.
Are toothbrushes sustainable?
Traditionally, no. I linked to this article above as well, but National Geographic has a really interesting – albeit alarming – piece on just how many toothbrushes end up in our landfills and how we got to this point. The article states that every toothbrush made since the 1930s is still in tact in landfills. And if you’re in the United States, we add one billion EACH YEAR to that pile. Great for dental hygiene, terrible for the planet.
What’s more, plastic toothbrushes are not recyclable because they’re generally made of mixed materials and get stuck in the machines. TerraCylce and Colgate have teamed up to offer this Oral Care Recycling Program which will take back your plastic toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes (from any brand), but we can do more.
Ridding our dental care routine of plastic is an affordable and effective way to live more sustainably.
Are bamboo toothbrushes really eco-friendly?
Bamboo toothbrushes are a great small step to a more sustainable lifestyle, but they’re not perfect. Bamboo is preferable to plastic because it is a fast-growing plant that will often replace itself within two years. If you’ve ever lived next door to someone with bamboo growing in their yard, you know this first hand.
Unfortunately, most bamboo is not grown in the backyards of everyone without an HOA – it’s primarily grown in China. Purchasing bamboo products from companies that guarantee they’re paying their workers a fair wage is important. This also means we’re still on the hook for the carbon footprint of manufacturing and shipping that internationally. Experts contend this is still better than plastic, however. Georganics’ beechwood brush and Grin Natural’s cornstarch-based handle offer promising diversity in the sustainable toothbrush space.
An even greater sticking point than the origin of the bamboo is the bristles. Most bamboo and other sustainable toothbrushes still have nylon bristles, which are generally not bio-degradable. While many companies take pains to ensure the bristles are BPA-free, they’re still imperfect. It’s important to separate the handle from the bristle before you compost the handle to ensure you’re not trying to compost something that will never break down.
There are toothbrushes on the market with bristles made from pig or boar hair, which makes them bio-degradable, but also makes them a bridge many of us can’t cross. You know the deal around here, no judgement either way. But again. If that material takes you by surprise, or you stick to vegan products, we’re stuck with Nylon bristles for now.
Summary of Sustainable Toothbrushes
We love Grin Naturals for their alternative materials, and Mable for their cool, standalone design. The Humble Co. gets extra points for its lower-waste option. Brush With Bamboo and Georganics, are brands with planet and people-based ethos that we’re happy to support.
Have you made the switch to a sustainable toothbrush? Let us know what you think.