6 Sustainable Toothbrushes For Plastic Free Pearly Whites (2023)
I wrote this guide for those who stress out over throwing away plastic toothbrushes.
Your dental health is important, but it shouldn’t be such a huge source of pollution or anxiety, so let’s do something about it!
I spent a lot of time finding the most sustainable toothbrush brands that minimize their plastic waste as much as possible, and still make brushes that work.
We’ll also talk a bit about the environmental and health impacts of traditional toothbrushes, and go over alternative materials that are starting to pop up.
Starting with the toothbrushes themselves:
Sustainable Toothbrush Options
Bite – Top Choice
Bite’s bamboo toothbrush is sustainability simplicity at its best.
What you see is what you get: a toothbrush with a replaceable head made from bamboo, with bioplastic castor bean oil bristles. And the bristles are the perfect softness level for me, and I’m someone with very sensitive teeth.
So if you want a toothbrush that isn’t made from a hunk of plastic and also won’t scrape off your enamel, you’ll enjoy Bite’s brush a lot.
The design itself reduces waste even further than your average bamboo brush, as they pack the brush into a super short paper box, as you can see in the picture above.
Since the bristles are bioplastic they can be industrially composted, but you’ll have to pull them out before doing that, as they won’t compost efficiently in your home bin.
If you’re a minimalist like me, you’ll enjoy all of Bite’s products. Like I said before, they specialize in simple, plastic-free dental and personal care items, and I also use their toothpaste tablets everyday!
Extra Bite Info:
- Certified B Corp
- PETA Beauty Without Bunnies Member
- Certified Woman-Owned Business
I’ll be honest – there’s an easily reached limit to how unique a bamboo toothbrush can be, which is why you may notice how similar Etee’s toothbrush is to my top choice.
And yeah, there isn’t really any major difference between the two brands besides one subjective thing: the bristle softness.
I’d describe Etee’s brush as soft-medium, while Bite’s are, well, softer! This isn’t really a big deal to most people, but as someone who brushes obsessively all day long – I do tend to prefer a particular texture of bristles.
With that being said, Etee’s bristle softness is only a tiny bit firmer, and most people probably won’t notice or care. And just to be clear – I also use this brush quite often and it works just as well as Bite’s.
They also color code their brushes at the base of the handle, so if you’re sharing a bathroom with multiple people you may appreciate an easy way to tell which brush is yours.
Georganic’s toothbrushes aren’t made from bamboo – instead, they use FSC-certified Swiss Beechwood for the handle, and nylon for the bristles.
The Forest Stewardship Council Certification basically means that the wood used comes from forests that are managed in a more responsible way, compared to things like clearcutting rainforest groves!
Of course, even FSC-certified products aren’t perfect, but Georganics in general is a pretty admirable brand when it comes to sustainable oral care products.
To be specific, they have a Zero to Landfill recycling system that allows you to return your used nylon bristles and brush heads to them, and they’ll handle the recycling through various partnerships.
You can choose from soft, medium, and firm bristle texture as well – and they even stock a specific version made for kids!
Georganic’s also makes one of the better floss options out there, especially if you like scents like orange and peppermint.
Extra Georganics Info:
- Certified B Corp
EcoRoot’s is another brand with a high-quality selection of sustainable goods, including their 4-piece set of bamboo toothbrushes.
While all of the brushes on this list are affordable, if you’re looking to save a few bucks, this could be one of the best options.
The black bristles are made from nylon, however, not bioplastic like my top two choices. But, they are quite soft – another plus for those who suffer from sensitive teeth.
EcoRoot’s toothbrush handles are flat, similar to Georganic’s, instead of being rounded. This is another minor detail that you may want to consider when choosing, as personally I prefer rounded handles when I’m brushing my teeth.
But EcoRoots doesn’t just make toothbrushes, and their face wash bar is my favorite cleanser, hands down!
Extra EcoRoots Info:
- 1% For The Planet Member
BattleGreenBox’s bamboo brushes don’t come with detachable – they’re one solid piece, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a great toothbrush option.
They use bioplastic castor bean oil bristles, similar to Bite’s, but they’re more of a medium firmness. So, if you have extremely sensitive teeth you may need something softer.
While their rounded handles are painted, they aren’t color coded for different people, they just use their signature cool minty green.
With that being said, BattleGreenBox has a lot more to offer than just toothbrushes, as they stock a wide variety of sustainable products – like their toothpaste powders!
And as their name implies, they’re actually more well-known for their eco friendly boxes, which cover a lot of personal care basics and make for excellent eco-conscious gifts.
Extra BattleGreenBox Info:
- Etsy Star Seller
EcoSlurp’s toothbrushes are probably the most budget-friendly option on this list, as their 4 and 12-packs are the cheapest I’ve come across.
And if you’re buying bamboo brushes for your family, these ones come color coded – making it super easy to tell which one is yours.
There’s nothing I hate more in life than sharing a toothbrush with someone else, so if you feel the same way and want an affordable, family-friendly pack of toothbrushes, you may want to give EcoSlurps a shot.
Their handles are rounded and made from bamboo, and the bristles are made from BPA-free nylon, which will need to be removed before you can compost them.
The bristles are medium-soft, and quite sturdy, so they’ll work for most people – including those with sensitive teeth!
It’s time to ditch plastic toothbrushes
Toothbrushes are such small pieces of plastic, people often ignore their overall impact when it comes to the environmental hazards of plastic pollution.
And sure, I’m not claiming that toothbrushes are comparable to the insane amount of plastic waste produced by fishing equipment, for example – but dental care is an easily controlled aspect of your life.
What I mean by that is you have the power to reduce your reliance on plastic, right now, just by endorsing a brand that isn’t making plastic toothbrushes. Of course, you could stop eating fish as well (which I highly recommend), but that’s a more indirect way of reducing plastic waste.
It’s not easy when all the oral care sections at your local stores look like this:
That’s why supporting smaller sustainable brands who operate online is important, because at some point we want to see their products stocked in stores, but it won’t happen until these companies grow!
When you brush your teeth, your mouth is exposed to plastics and other contaminants, which can then be absorbed through your sensitive mucous membranes and swallowed.
Petroleum companies don’t only produce plastic and fuel at their refineries – they produce thousands of other petrochemicals pointlessly used in a variety of products and industries.
And the oil industry is ramping up plastic production due to backlash and the overall negative view of their operations regarding climate change – and yes, you read that correctly: plastic production is increasing in response to climate change!
Which sounds insane, but reality often does nowadays.
Even if plastic recycling wasn’t almost entirely a scam, toothbrushes would be really hard to recycle for most people – and most industrial facilities won’t accept them anyways, as they’re basically just medical waste.
Eco friendly options do have some plastic in their bristles, but the handles are usually made from materials like bamboo, which can be composted.
Bioplastic bristles can be too if you find an appropriate industrial composting facility, and many brands are coming out with circular recycling programs that provide a stress free way to dispose of your brushes.
Why are conventional toothbrush materials so awful?
Although toothbrushes may not be considered skincare products, you may want to check out my complete guide to toxic skincare ingredients, which covers a lot of other things that may be in your bathroom product formulas.
I also have a lengthy guide on the most sustainable skincare brands, many of which also make high-quality oral care products!
But let’s take a look at some the more pressing issues when it comes to toothbrushes:
- Polyethylene (PP) and polypropylene (PE)
- Nylon brush bristles
- Plastic production contaminants
Going a bit further, we can look at a few of these in particular:
Polyethylene (PP) and polypropylene (PE)
These are the two most common types of plastics used to make toothbrushes., and both of them are produced in massive amounts by the fossil fuel industry – a major driving force of climate change.
The industrial production of these types of plastics leads to extensive pollution in waterways, which flow into the ocean where the plastic breaks down into microplastics, collects in massive garbage patches, and sinks to the ocean floor.
Oil spills are also extremely common and lead to staggering amounts of animals and plant death, like this oil-soaked seaweed here:
Even when polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) “break down,” they’re releasing greenhouse gasses like methane and ethylene into the atmosphere.
Plastics also leech other byproducts and contaminants into the environment and, like earlier mentioned, eventually turn into microplastics.
Microplastic exposure affects both human and animal health in various ways, many of which are still poorly understood, but one of the main issues is widespread suspected endocrine disruption (our hormones).
Recently, microplastics have even been found in human blood and other tissues – which means there’s virtually no escape from them currently.
Used in toothbrush bristles because it’s easy to shape, bend, and turn into thread-like bits, nylon is a hugely popular type of plastic.
Nylon production emits the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O) during production, which is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) – which means the production of this kind of plastic is one of the worst for our planet.
As a type of plastic, nylon is another petroleum derived material, and its existence is intertwined with the devastation oil spills cause for innocent animals, just like polyethylene and polypropylene.
Here’s an innocent Australian pelican being de-oiled by scientists after a spill (one of the lucky few):
Nylon also requires much more energy and water to produce compared to other types of plastics, and the water used ends up contaminated with a variety of byproducts during manufacturing – which also end up polluting aquatic ecosystems.
Another tragic part of plastic production is that poor communities, who are already struggling with the rising costs of living around the planet, are usually located near these factories.
Which means the most vulnerable people in society are also the ones exposed to the worst effects of consumerism, and the highest levels of plastic-related toxins.
Are bamboo toothbrushes actually eco friendly?
Bamboo is a pretty eco friendly material – especially compared to plastic. It’s a fast growing type of grass which can be grown quite easily without pesticides.
And while growing bamboo does require water and land to produce – so does plastic, and much more of both when you consider the devastation it inflicts on ecosystems.
Also, bamboo can be composted, unlike plastic!
What can you do with an old toothbrush?
The best way to use an old toothbrush is, in my opinion, for cleaning small and hard to reach places.
You can use an old toothbrush to scrub areas in your bathroom or kitchen that aren’t often cleaned, or use them for cleaning electronics and other small devices.
Because our mouths are pretty filthy overall, I wouldn’t use them for cleaning certain stuff (like silverware or dishes) unless you sterilize them well beforehand.
Finding a sustainable toothbrush is often the first step many people take in their journey towards living an eco friendly lifestyle, and it makes sense – you use them everyday!
When you eliminate plastic from your life and support ethical brands, you’re directly contributing to the sustainability movement, little by little.
And that’s how change happens – it’s not all at once, but through small actions taken by a lot of individual people who care.