Student Sustainability Reviews: Bamboo Toothbrush

Matilda Martin brings us the first in her series of sustainable reviews. In this first instalment she tackles the bamboo toothbrush and why the plastic toothbrush should have no place in our bathrooms anymore.

Choose a toothbrush you can outlive

We’ve all been made aware of the damaging pollutive effects that our plastic products have on the environment. But have you ever stopped to consider the daily products and objects you use which will soon add to the problem? The toothbrush, a product all of us use each and everyday is a prime example. 

In June, National Geographic wrote that ‘a billion toothbrushes will be thrown away in the U.S. this year’. The issue doesn’t stop there, ‘Many toothbrushes are unrecyclable, because the composite plastics most are now made of are difficult, if not impossible, to break apart efficiently.’ 

Lucky for us, there is an easy solution!

The humble plastic classic


Bamboo Toothbrushes

Bamboo is becoming an increasingly popular material in our strive towards a more sustainable future. Unlike its plastic equivalent, the bamboo toothbrush will break down and not remain as a pollutant. 

It is important however to not just order any bamboo brush. For example, some bristles contain BPA, which The Independent describes as ‘a chemical used to make certain plastics that can seep into drinks, possibly leading to an increased risk of health problems such as increased blood pressure, heart disease and impaired brain development in children’. 

As a result, a lot of these brushes will advertise themselves as BPA free, so read the label! 

Because this movement is catching on so quickly, there is a fast-increasing market for these bamboo brushes. It is easy to feel overwhelmed with choice. 

The Independent has put together a list of the best bamboo brushes which I would highly recommend. As with many eco-friendly products, these brushes do tend to be slightly more expensive than their plastic alternatives. However, if you can afford it, then I would urge you to invest.

Picture 1
A bamboo toothbrush stocked in Scoop at the University of York

How do I dispose of the Bamboo Brush? 

Once your toothbrush has run its course, remove the bristles and compost the remaining material. 

My experience 

It may take a while to find a toothbrush that works for you. Some bristles are harder than others and for those who have sensitive gums I would recommend the softer type. 

All in all, now I’ve tried the bamboo option, I’ll never go back! 

About the Author: Matilda Martin studies an MA in Global Literature and Culture. Matilda has been writing about the environment for a few years and loves sharing her sustainable tips with readers.


    • Awesome Phil! Feel free to let us know which company you bought your bamboo toothbrush with, and how it compares to an average plastic one?

      Best Wishes,
      Managing Editor


    • Hi Vicki,

      Yes, unfortunately some sustainable toothbrush companies still require you to remove the bristles from their products as they aren’t biodegradable like the handle (which can be composted). This is normally due to oral hygiene and durability reasons where plastics/synthetics are still a favoured material for the bristles. However, this is something which has been raised with various companies so hopefully they are working towards a solution where the whole toothbrush (incl. bristles) can be composted/ recycled.

      In the meantime, it should be specified on most packaging if the whole toothbrush is biodegradable or only certain parts. Good luck! Let us know if you find a company which has managed to pull this off!

      Best wishes,
      Managing Editor


    • Hi mrmhf,

      This article highlights how some toothbrush companies still use non-biodegradable bristles even if the handle is. This is normally due to oral hygiene and durability reasons where plastic is still a favoured material. Often with bamboo toothbrushes the bristles need to be removed unless it is specified on the packaging that the whole toothbrush is biodegradable. This is something which has been raised with the companies so hopefully they are working towards a solution where the whole toothbrush (incl. bristles) can be composted/ recycled.

      Thank you for your question!

      Best wishes,
      Managing Editor

      Liked by 1 person

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