But what about your toothbrush?
It may not be the first sustainable switch that comes to mind, but when you consider the sheer volume, it starts to make sense. If each person in the United States alone had just one plastic toothbrush, we’d still be looking at upwards of 300 million plastic pieces laying in landfills – and that’s without the many replacements people use throughout the year.
Because the plastic doesn’t deteriorate over time, those toothbrushes turn into heaps of garbage in landfills and our water sources.
By swapping your petroleum-based toothbrush for a sustainably-grown bamboo alternative, you’re not only ensuring your toothbrush won’t linger long after you in a landfill, but you’re also investing in your health – bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, so you won’t have to worry about nasty bacteria on your brush.
There are several brands of bamboo toothbrush on the market for you to choose from – you can read our in-depth review below!
Article NavigationOur Top PicksMother’s Vault Bamboo ToothbrushesWowE LifeStyle Natural Bamboo Toothbrushesbmbu Bamboo ToothbrushesGreen Root Bamboo ToothbrushesWhat Should I Look for in a Bamboo Toothbrush?BPA-FreeThe PackagingBrush PreferencesCharcoal? In My Toothbrush?Considerations About Bamboo ToothbrushesNatural BristlesNylon BristlesSomething is Better than NothingSmall Steps Toward SustainabilityEnter Text Here…
Our Top Picks
Before we go into detail about each brand and their product, let’s quickly look at how they compare.
Our #1 Pick
With four brushes in each pack, Mother’s Vault bamboo toothbrushes are 100% recyclable and compostable (once the bristles are removed).
The bristles are made from BPA-free nylon and are crafted to stay in the handle and not fall out, providing the same quality clean as a traditional toothbrush.
The company also offers risk-free purchasing – if you buy a pack of brushes and decide they aren’t for you, you can return them for a full refund of the purchase price.
The brushes are available in both adult and children’s sizes.
What We Love
Be good to the planet, and give back with every purchase – a portion of every sale of Mother’s Vault toothbrushes and other beauty products is donated to the Earthjustice charity, a nonprofit environmental law organization.
If you’re used to stiffer bristles, these brushes may require some getting used to – the nylon bristles are very soft, so some users complained that their teeth did not feel as clean after brushing as they did with a traditional toothbrush.
Every detail of WowE Lifestyle bamboo toothbrushes has been thought of, from the BPA-free bristles to the biodegradable cellophane each brush is packaged in.
These brushes are lightweight and have soft bristles, so it’s a good choice for people with sensitive gums or who are used to an extra-gentle brush.
The handles are lightweight and feel comfortable in hand.
What We Love
While the bristles are soft and gentle, this brush cleans like a traditional toothbrush with stiffer bristles – reviewers noted that their tongues and teeth felt clean after brushing. The handle is also smooth and safe, you don’t have to worry about splinters or slivers during brushing.
Some reviewers noticed that these toothbrushes seemed especially susceptible to mold. Be careful not to leave your toothbrush sitting in water, and take care to dry it off after each brushing to get the most use out of it.
Bmbu’s toothbrushes have ergonomically designed handles that are lightweight and easy for even children to use.
The brush packs, which come with three toothbrushes, have 100% recycled, biodegradable packaging, so every aspect of your purchase is kind to the earth.
The bristles are a medium softness, are made from charcoal-infused nylon for maximum cleaning power, and are completely free of BPA, phthalates, and PVC.
What We Love
Reviewers appreciate that every aspect of these brushes is zero-waste – there is no superfluous packaging, plastic windows, or cellophane bags – the packaging for these brushes is 100% biodegradable cardboard. Many reviewers noted that the texture of the bristles is a good balance between soft enough, but stiff enough to actually do some cleaning.
Those with sensitive gums may want to choose a brush with a softer bristle – these nylon fibers are on the stiff side, and can feel scratchy to those who are used to something that’s a little more flexible and soft. Also, some reviewers found that the handles splintered after a week or so of use.
The Green Root’s bamboo brushes are specially designed for above-average cleaning – the handle is ergonomically designed, featuring a 15-degree curve that helps you clean every last corner of your mouth for an all-over clean.
The company provides the option to engrave your toothbrush, so each family member knows exactly which brush is theirs.
The bristles are made from ultra-soft nylon, and the pack of four individual brushes are delivered in entirely biodegradable packaging for a zero-waste purchase.
What We Love
When you’re dealing with your mouth, the last thing you want is splintering or slivering wood – that’s why these brushes get extra special props for being extra smooth. The light coat of wax helps to keep them from splintering – and helps them resist water absorption, which means they last longer and help your dollar go further.
The Green Root’s toothbrushes come in only one size, which is suitable for an adult, but may be too large for children. This can be frustrating if you want to get the whole family on board using sustainable toiletries and bathroom products.
What Should I Look for in a Bamboo Toothbrush?
There are a few important things you’ll want to be on the lookout for when making your decision to purchase bamboo toothbrushes.
First of all, you’ll want to make sure that the handle and bristles are BPA-free. BPA, or bisphenol-A, is a chemical found in hard plastics and metal coatings and can behave similarly to estrogen and other hormones.
Because your toothbrush is used in your mouth, a product made with BPA can introduce unwanted hormones into your body and cause unpleasant short- and long-term side effects.
Because another big part of switching to bamboo toothbrushes is to reduce waste, you’ll want to know what kind of packaging your brush will arrive in. It doesn’t make much sense to swap out your plastic toothbrush, only to throw more plastic into a landfill by throwing away cellophane bags, plastic shells, and clear windows from the box of brushes itself.
Look for bamboo brushes that come in entirely recycled, biodegradable packaging so you know the box your brush comes in will be just as environmentally-friendly as the brush itself.
Finally, you’ll want to keep your family’s preferences in mind. Do you prefer a soft brush, or firmer, stiffer bristles? Do you like a straight brush handle, or something slightly angled to get even those hard-to-reach places? Will you mind a layer of wax on your brush handle to prevent splintering and ensure a comfortable brush, or are you okay with untreated, fibrous bamboo?
A bamboo toothbrush won’t be an effective, eco-friendly purchase to make if you wind up not using it and going back to traditional plastic, so be sure to take the time to think about your and your family’s needs to make this a part of a lifestyle change instead of just something new to buy.
Charcoal? In My Toothbrush?
Some bamboo toothbrushes contain charcoal as the main ingredient, usually in the bristles themselves. This probably conjures up visions of black-stained teeth, but the result is actually the opposite – charcoal is one of nature’s best ways to get healthy, white teeth, and for overall health and wellness.
It works so well in natural toothbrushes because you don’t need to use chemical-laden whitening trays, gels, and strips that can damage the enamel of your teeth with prolonged use.
So how does a totally black element create whiter teeth?
The power lies in charcoal’s ability to draw out tannins, the compound in things like coffee, tea, wine, tobacco, and berries that can cause staining in the teeth. Charcoal’s powerful absorption powers help it draw stains out from teeth, in addition to providing antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties to help kill off any bacteria in the mouth responsible for bad breath and cavities.
Charcoal is also extremely effective at removing plaque so, when combined with a good toothpaste, can help keep your teeth healthier and your mouth fresher in between cleanings.
What sounds counterintuitive is actually one of the best ingredients your bamboo toothbrush can contain, especially if your goal is whiter teeth in addition to overall mouth health.
Considerations About Bamboo Toothbrushes
Of course, not every bamboo toothbrush is going to be perfect, and if you encounter a bamboo brush that is not included on this list, you’ll want to be on the lookout for things to avoid, as well as things to gravitate toward.
In some cases, “sustainable” means “animal-based” so if you live a plant-based lifestyle, or simply don’t want animal products in your toothbrush, pay special attention to the material used to create the toothbrush bristles.
Some “sustainable” companies use pig hair to create the natural bristles, instead of manufactured nylon. Especially unsettling is that many of these pig hair bristles come from pigs raised on Chinese farms – while they are a byproduct of the meat industry there, and would have otherwise gone to waste, the treatment of the pigs on the Chinese farms is uncertain (though likely not good), and purchasing brushes made with hair from those pigs, those farms would be profiting off animal cruelty. While perhaps less “sustainable” than animal hair, buying a brush with nylon bristles assures you are putting the lives of other sentient creatures first.
On the subject of nylon, you’ll want to be wary of where these bristles are manufactured, and the exact type of nylon used to create the bristles. Nylon-4, a specific type of nylon, has been shown in lab tests to degrade over time, so if you have any doubt of whether or not your bristles have been made with nylon-4 and not unsustainable forms of nylon, don’t be afraid to contact the company!
It’s better to know exactly what you’re purchasing than to spend money on something you thought was more sustainable than it really is.
Something is Better than Nothing
However, as with any purchase, there is never going to be a perfect product that is 100% sustainable while meeting the needs of you and your family. In this case, and in many cases when it comes to making good choices for the earth, it is better to do something than nothing.
Even if your brush’s bristles contain a nylon other than Nylon-4, but the handle is made of biodegradable bamboo instead of plastic, you are still taking a huge leap forward regarding your own sustainability. Don’t be discouraged and choose to do nothing because you can’t do everything – the small steps you take during your day-to-day life are what are going to add up to a more sustainable home.
Small Steps Toward Sustainability
Changing your toothbrush from a plastic model to a bamboo one may not seem like it makes a big difference, but it’s the small, everyday switches that add up to big positive change.
By stocking your toothbrush cup with earth-friendly toothbrushes made from natural ingredients instead of harmful plastics, you’re doing your part to protect the planet, and teaching your children good habits for both their health and for the environment.
Purchasing bamboo toothbrushes also sends a message with your dollar that there is a demand for safe, natural products, and can help initiate change through retailers, as well as getting your friends and family on board.
No change is too small to make an impact, and if you can prevent plastic toothbrushes from ending up in landfills and in our oceans, it’s a small swap that promotes big positive change.