A 100% Plastic-Free Toothbrush? (UPDATED)

UPDATE: 8/8/2020

We are happy to announce 2 new compostable toothbrush options!

 

Bamboo Toothbrush with Plant-Based Bristles – 4 Pack (vegan)

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From the company: “Brush with Bamboo’s Adult 4-pack includes 4 certified organic adult sized bamboo toothbrushes. Every part of this product is plant-based: bristles, handle, wrapper, and box. Soft bristles are made from a base of 62% castor bean oil and are made in USA. The handle is made from Certified 100% Organic Bamboo (by CERES of Germany). The wrapper around the toothbrush is plant-based and commercially compostable. The box encasing the toothbrush is made from paper – no tape or glue is used. Your bamboo toothbrushes can be used for just as long as plastic toothbrushes. USA certified. Green America certified. BPA-free. Vegan”

 

Gaia Guy Boar Bristle Tooth Brush (non-vegan)

GAIA

From their Amazon store:  “Gaia Guy is proud to offer a bamboo handle and boar bristle toothbrush. It’s the ultimate natural and renewable resource based toothbrush to help you start and finish every day feeling good about your commitment to living as close to nature as you possibly can.”

UPDATE: 7/28/2020

About a year ago, there was a company on Amazon called Truly Eco Friendly that sold a bamboo toothbrush with nylon-free bristles. What were the bristles made of? Well, that information wasn’t easy to find, which is always a red flag. But through more searching, I found a small blurb stating the bristles were made from a combination of charcoal, bamboo fiber, and Bio-Pet (Food Based starches).

The term “Bio-anything” always alerts my greenwashing senses, just like Spider-Man, but with… trash.

If this toothbrush was really the first 100% plastic-free toothbrush, wouldn’t you ADVERTISE THAT EVERYWHERE?! Like literally, that should just be the name of the toothbrush: “THE FIRST 100% PLASTIC-FREE TOOTHBRUSH.” I would plaster that info on the frikkin’ sun.

But they didn’t. Why?

They just went with “NON-NYLON.”And again, companies need to stop skirting over the real ingredients by telling us what ISN’T in it.

And on top of that, these toothbrushes have been sold out for about a year with no plans on restocking.

So have we just given up? Are we all okay with nylon bristles that have to be plucked out and shipped to recycle?

If there was more of a demand for truly backyard compostable bristles, trust me, some company would find a way. The dollar speaks volumes.

So let’s demand it! NO MORE PLASTIC BRISTLES!

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Original Post:

Finding a bamboo toothbrush without nylon bristles was a three year challenge.

Did you know almost all toothbrushes, including bamboo toothbrushes, contain bristles made from nylon? Nylon is a non-biodegradable thermoplastic and is used for making leggings, clothes, car seats, parachutes machine parts and countless other items. It was the first synthetic fiber. And we’ve been brushing our teeth with it since our first toothbrush.

The point is, when you buy a bamboo toothbrush, you’re sort of under the impression that the entire toothbrush is biodegradable/compostable. Hopefully you read the packaging and realized that when they say the bristles are BPA-free, you realized they were made of plastic, and looked a bit further. So no, nylon bristles are not biodegradable.

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What’s the problem with nylon?

There are many. Nylon was the first synthetic fibers ever produced and is made from carbon-based chemicals like coal and petroleum. Nylon is not biodegradable and will pollute the planet for hundreds of years. Manufacturing nylon requires a great deal of energy and large amounts of water are needed to cool the plastic fibers. The water absorbs pollutants from the fibers and is then released into the environment to contaminate the water supply it enters. Additionally, one of the byproducts of nylon manufacturing is the the release of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that is described as being 300 times worse for the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. One ton of nitrous oxide is equivalent to 298 tons of carbon dioxide.

These bristles, on the other hand, are made out of activated charcoal, plant, and starch fibers. These bristles…. ARE COMPOSTABLE!

There were two obvious differences I noticed with these bristles. Firstly, they didn’t have that awful chemical taste you get the first time you use a nylon-bristled toothbrush, even if you rinse it.

And then, the bristles are soft! So many bamboo brushes I’ve tried in the past were so hard it hurt my gums. These bristles perfect at hitting those hard to reach in-between spots.

And even better, I don’t have to bust out the pliers to rip out the bristles when I’m done. That was pretty irritating.

brushFrom a 2017 post

Seriously, what a pain…. having to tear the bristles off when you’re ready to compost the handle. Those tiny plastic fibers get everywhere, and you basically have to collect them and send them to Terracycle to be recycled. What a nightmarish responsibility for companies to place upon the consumers, the people that keep them in business.

 

Typical Nylon Bristles

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…And don’t fall for charcoal coating!

Even the bristles that say they are charcoal only mean they are coated in charcoal. They are still most likely nylon bristles with some sort of charcoal infusion. Make sure to read labels carefully

 

 

 

Sources:

Wallace Carothers and the Development of Nylon

https://sewport.com/fabrics-directory/nylon-fabric

trulyecofriendly.com

https://www.dupont.com/products-and-services/plastics-polymers-resins/thermoplastics/videos/nylon-milestones.html

Disclosure statement: As an Amazon Associate I earn a small percentage from qualifying purchases if accessed from this site. As always, use Amazon as a last resort to buy the items necessary to prevent future waste. For more information, check out 5 Zero Waste Shopping Tips

3 comments

  1. Hello. I moved to US from Japan one month ago and realized so many eco options you can take in US compared to Japan.
    I recently got eco bamboo toothbrush and eco floss. I thought both of items were composable but realized both of them using nylon. I was looking for nylon free tooth brush and end up in your blog. Thank you for sharing two option. I was researching in Japanese and found two lore options of no nylon and I just wanted to share with you.
    First one is bimbo handle with horse hair. (This product is cruelty free and using horse hair when horses had hair cut.) This Japanese website has English too. The company makes toothbrush is Taiwan.
    https://minimal-living-tokyo.com/products/%E3%83%90%E3%83%B3%E3%83%96%E3%83%BC%E6%AD%AF%E3%83%96%E3%83%A9%E3%82%B7-bamboo-toothbrushes?utm_source=IGShopping&utm_medium=Social

    There’s also company from Taiwan makes bimbo tooth brush with horse hair. Their website is only in Chinese.

    https://www.bamboobrush.com.tw/

    Hopefully there will be more option in US too. Please update your blog when you find more. Tank you,

    Like

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