Finding a bamboo toothbrush without nylon bristles was a three year challenge.
And tonight, that challenge ended in victory!
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.
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.
From 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
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.
Finally, a solution:
So cheers to Truly Eco Friendly for finally taking the initiative with their Non-Nylon Bamboo Toothbrush that is 100% biodegradable and requires no frustrating bristle-pulling when no longer usable.
Instead of using plastic bristles, these bristles are made from a combination of charcoal, bamboo fibre, and Bio-Pet (Food Based starches).
Each year over 50 million pounds of plastic toothbrushes are thrown into our landfills. Until now, bamboo toothbrushes with plastic bristles were the only available option. And though these bristles are a bit softer than the hard nylon bristles, they’re much better for your enamel.