There are a number of eco-friendly alternatives out there; sometimes it’s difficult to decide which one to go for. To make it a little easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of the top five types of environmentally friendly toothbrushes available on the British market.
One of the main selling points of these products is that they are very similar to a standard plastic toothbrush, yet have a lower environmental impact. This allows customers to reduce plastic consumption without needing to get used to something new or unfamiliar. Often made from yogurt pots, the recycled plastic toothbrush is slightly more eco-friendly as it does not require new plastic in order to be manufactured. However, as with traditional toothbrushes, the problem of disposal can still be a tricky one to address. At the end of its brushing life, this product can still contribute to plastic pollution. Recycling in itself can also be problematic, as the process can incur quite a large carbon cost.
With growing public concern over the plastic pollution crisis, toothbrush manufacturers are scrambling to produce eco-friendly alternatives. The last few years have seen a surge in development of manual toothbrushes with removable and replaceable heads. This is a great idea, as although the brush still contains plastic, an individual could keep the handle for life and simply dispose of the bristles every few months. This would significantly reduce the plastic waste. The main drawback of this option is the current lack of availability. Many of these toothbrushes are still in development and yet to reach the mainstream. They are available online and in some select stores but the viability of this product is yet to be seen.
One or two innovative companies are taking the idea of the “replaceable bristles” concept one step further. Using aluminium for the handle for their toothbrushes and a convenient subscription option for the replaceable nylon heads. This idea provides the customer with a more stylized alternative to brushing with plastic. Although there are many benefits to this option – toothbrushes with sleek designs and significantly reduced plastic footprint – the price tags of the aluminum toothbrush may put people off. These products are currently in their beta phase – we’re excited to see how they do on launch.
Similar to the bamboo toothbrush, some companies choose to produce their toothbrushes out of standard wood from trees, most commonly using birch. This is an excellent alternative to normal brushing, as the plastic waste is reduced by up to 95%. This also means that brushes can be manufactured in european countries, without having to outsource to Asian manufactures who have access to bamboo. However, the manufacturing process has a greater cost to the environment than bamboo, as it requires the processing of trees for wood, which take many years to grow. Wooden toothbrushes are generally more expensive than standard toothbrushes, and are very hard to find in the UK market.
Our favourite by far is the bamboo toothbrush – this eco-friendly alternative to brushing with plastic is made from moso bamboo which grows to full height in under 2 years and can be easily harvested and processed. Despite needing to be manufactured all the way over in Asia due to the growing location of the bamboo, the environmental impact of the bamboo toothbrush is still significantly lower than any other alternative. The handle requires very little carbon to manufacture and can be composted at the end of use. All previously mentioned alternatives require the processing of raw materials such as plastic and metals and are still tricky to dispose of. If you still want to know more you can read a detailed comparison of the life cycles of bamboo and plastic toothbrushes in the Bristle Journal.