Eco-friendly toothbrush made with vegan and sustainable materials placed on a wooden counter next to the sink in a bathroom.
May 23, 2024
 in 
Lifestyle

Go Green With Your Oral Care: Exploring the Benefits of 9 Eco-Friendly and Vegan Toothbrush Options

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rushing our teeth is a twice-daily ritual that barely registers in our busy lives. For many, it's the first and last thing we do each day, and maybe even after meals, to freshen up. It’s as habitual as tying our shoes.

But have you ever considered the environmental impact of your toothbrush? Every year, over 23 billion plastic toothbrushes are discarded worldwide, contributing significantly to landfills and ocean pollution. Most of these are made from plastic, nylon, and rubber—materials that don't break down easily and can last almost indefinitely, turning into microplastics that pose risks to marine life and ecosystems.

However, there's an uplifting side to this story! Choosing eco-friendly and vegan toothbrushes made from biodegradable materials can help reduce this impact. These alternatives not only keep your smile bright but also dissolve naturally back into the earth, lessening your plastic footprint. Discover how simple swapping your toothbrush can be a practical step toward more sustainable living.

Table of  Contents

What are conventional toothbrushes usually made out of?  

Conventional toothbrushes are typically made from non-biodegradable plastic materials, contributing significantly to environmental pollution and waste accumulation. 

The American Dental Association recommends replacing our toothbrushes every three to four months. A guideline that, while promoting good oral hygiene, has led to an increase of these plastic wands ending up in landfills and oceans each year.

The plastic manual toothbrush, with a fixed plastic handle and head, is one of the most widely used and discarded oral hygiene products. These toothbrushes are primarily composed of virgin plastic, which is derived from non-renewable fossil fuels.

The issue of microplastics arises when these plastic toothbrushes are disposed of improperly. Microplastics are small plastic particles less than 5 millimeters in size that can be harmful to marine life and potentially enter the human food chain.

In addition to the plastic handle, conventional toothbrushes also feature bristles made from nylon, another type of plastic. Nylon bristles are designed to be durable and effective in removing plaque and maintaining oral hygiene. However, their non-biodegradable nature contributes to the overall environmental impact of conventional toothbrushes.

The manufacturing process of plastic toothbrushes also has a significant carbon footprint. The extraction and processing of fossil fuels required for plastic production releases greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change. Furthermore, the disposal of plastic toothbrushes in landfills can cause harmful chemicals to leach into the soil and groundwater.

Why choose a sustainable toothbrush?

A woman smiling while holding an assortment of 3 sustainable toothbrushes made from bamboo in front of her.

When it comes to maintaining a healthy smile, brushing your teeth is an essential daily habit. However, when you choose to use a sustainable toothbrush, you can keep your teeth clean while protecting the planet. Let's explore the benefits of sustainable toothbrushes and why they are a better choice for you and the environment.

Reducing plastic waste

Sustainable toothbrushes are often made from renewable and biodegradable materials like bamboo. Bamboo is a fast-growing plant that requires no fertilizer and self-regenerates from its roots, so it doesn’t need to be replanted. This makes bamboo a highly sustainable material.

Supporting sustainable manufacturing practices

When you opt for a sustainable toothbrush, you're not just making a personal choice for your oral health. You're also choosing to support eco-friendly manufacturing practices. These practices consume less energy and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to the production of conventional plastic toothbrushes. Many sustainable toothbrush brands are committed to ethical and responsible production methods. By choosing these brands, you're actively contributing to a healthier planet.

What are the most sustainable and effective materials for toothbrushes?

The materials used for your toothbrush are essential in determining its eco-friendliness and effectiveness. The most sustainable and practical materials for toothbrushes are:

Toothbrush handle

There are several eco-friendly options to consider when selecting a sustainable handle for your toothbrush:

  1. Bamboo: This is a rapidly renewable resource, making it an environmentally friendly choice. Bamboo is also biodegradable, ensuring that it can break down naturally without leaving harmful residues in the environment.
  2. Wood: Various types of wood, such as beechwood or birchwood, can also be used as sustainable alternatives to plastic handles. Like bamboo, wood is an organic renewable resource and biodegradable, making it an eco-friendly option. Since organic materials can decompose naturally, wooden toothbrushes avoid adding to the growing plastic pollution problem.

Toothbrush bristles

Here are the most common materials used for sustainable toothbrush bristles:

  1. Castor Bean Oil: Innovative toothbrush bristles made from castor bean oil are gaining popularity for their sustainability and effectiveness. Castor bean oil is a renewable resource that can be processed into a material similar to nylon, a biopolymer known as polyamide 11 or nylon 11, offering a biodegradable alternative to traditional plastic bristles. 
  2. Plant-Based Bioplastics: These are another sustainable option for toothbrush bristles. These bioplastics are derived from renewable plant sources like corn starch or sugarcane, offering biodegradability compared to traditional plastics. 
  3. Vegan: Many traditional biodegradable toothbrushes use boar hair for bristles, which isn't vegan. Vegan toothbrushes, on the other hand, use plant-based or synthetic bristles that avoid animal products, ensuring no animals are harmed in their production, making it a cruelty-free option. 
  4. Palm oil free: The cultivation of palm oil is a leading cause of deforestation, destroying habitats and biodiversity. Brands that commit to being palm oil-free are often more mindful of their overall environmental impact and are making strides to protect our rainforests and the wildlife that inhabit them.

Plastic vs. bamboo toothbrushes

A person holding a bamboo toothbrush in one hand and a plastic one in the other for the purpose of comparison.

The choice between plastic and bamboo toothbrushes goes beyond dental care; it extends to environmental stewardship and sustainability. Here are their comparisons:

Plastic toothbrushes

Plastic toothbrushes have long been the go-to choice for oral care, offering durability and convenience. However, their environmental footprint tells a different story. The non-biodegradable nature of plastic toothbrushes raises concerns about their long-term presence in landfills and oceans, highlighting the urgency for sustainable alternatives.

Bamboo toothbrushes

Bamboo manual toothbrushes exhibit the lowest overall environmental impact compared to traditional plastic and electric toothbrushes. The natural antimicrobial properties of bamboo further enhance its appeal for oral hygiene, reducing the risk of bacterial growth on toothbrushes.

The sustainability showdown

Plastic manual toothbrushes with replaceable heads outperform bamboo toothbrushes in terms of environmental impact and human health considerations. While bamboo toothbrushes offer biodegradability within months, they may hinder land use for biodiversity conservation, raising questions about their overall sustainability.

The eco-friendly choice

In the battle of plastic vs. bamboo toothbrushes, the scales tip towards bamboo for its eco-friendly attributes. Bamboo toothbrushes offer toxin-free, gentle bristles that clean effectively without harming enamel or soft tissues, and as far as their production and disposal are concerned, are much more gentle on the environment as they do not contribute to long-lasting plastic waste like conventional ones do. So, you can be confident that you're making a hygienic and sustainable choice.

Are sustainable toothbrushes hygienic?

When sustainable toothbrushes are used and stored correctly, they are as hygienic as their plastic counterparts. Proper maintenance practices, such as rinsing the toothbrush after use, allowing it to air dry, and replacing it every three to four months, are essential for optimal hygiene maintenance.

Sustainable toothbrushes made from bamboo or recycled plastics are designed to minimize bacterial proliferation through their natural antimicrobial properties and durable construction. Biodegradable bamboo handles also reduce bacterial growth and break down in compost bins, promoting oral and environmental health.

What criteria are we using to select an eco-friendly toothbrush?

An eco-friendly toothbrush should align with sustainability principles, ethical sourcing, and environmental consciousness. Here are the key criteria for an eco-friendly toothbrush:

  1. Biodegradable Materials: An eco-friendly toothbrush should be made from biodegradable materials like bamboo or recycled plastics. These materials break down naturally, reducing environmental impact and waste accumulation.
  2. Sustainable Sourcing: The toothbrush should be sourced from sustainable materials that are harvested responsibly, ensuring minimal impact on ecosystems and biodiversity.
  3. Vegan and Cruelty-Free: Vegan toothbrushes are free from animal-derived ingredients and are not tested on animals. This aspect of eco-friendliness ensures that the toothbrush is ethically produced without harming animals.
  4. Recyclable Packaging: Eco-friendly toothbrushes should come in recyclable packaging to minimize waste and promote recycling practices.
  5. Minimal Environmental Footprint: The production and transportation of the toothbrush should have a minimal environmental footprint, reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption.
  6. Chemical-Free: Eco-friendly toothbrushes should be free from harmful chemicals like BPA (bisphenol-A) and phthalates, ensuring they are safe for both users and the environment.
  7. Durability and Longevity: A sustainable toothbrush should be durable and long-lasting to reduce the frequency of replacements, further minimizing waste generation.

9 sustainable toothbrush brands that are vegan

Here are nine great brands we believe fulfill all the criteria for eco-friendly and vegan toothbrushes.

1. Battle Green

eco-friendly toothbrush, and case by Battle Green.

This UK-based brand offers a range of natural cosmetics, skincare, and everyday products. They are dedicated to sustainability and are 100% vegan.

  • Materials: Upcycled, plant-based, natural and organic ingredients.
  • Case Details: Travel-friendly bamboo case with holes at both ends to allow proper drying of the toothbrush.
  • Disposal: The toothbrush handle is biodegradable and compostable while the bristles can be sent to a recycling facility.
  • Pricing: From $5
  • Types: Manual.
  • Sustainability Factors: Everything is hand-made in Wales.Plastic-free minimalist packaging that is recyclable, cardboard boxes held together with tape that has plant-based, vegan-friendly adhesive. Zero-waste approach to production. PETA Cruelty-Free and Vegan.

2. Sustainable Tomorrow

An electric toothbrush and replacement heads all made with eco-friendly materials by Sustainable Tomorrow brand.

Sustainable Tomorrow offers a range of simple yet sophisticated sustainable products designed to help individuals reduce their environmental footprint.

  • Materials: 100% organic bamboo. Compostable, recyclable, and biodegradable materials.
  • Case Details: Bamboo travel cases for both their senior and junior ranges.
  • Disposal: Biodegradable and recyclable.
  • Pricing: From $10 for manual toothbrushes and $81 for electric ones.
  • Types: Electric and manual.
  • Sustainability Factors: Biodegradable packaging. FSC Certified. Vegan.

3. Me Mother Earth

toothbrushes made with bamboo and charcoal fiber by Me Mother Earth brand.

This brand shares our ideology that every small change adds up and can make a significant impact on our planet. 

  • Materials: The toothbrushes are made from a combination of bamboo and BPA-free nylon bristles. They also use bamboo charcoal fiber for their sustainable toothbrushes.
  • Case Details: They offer a beautifully crafted bamboo toothbrush travel case that makes traveling with your bamboo toothbrush easy and plastic-free. The travel case is made from 100% renewable bamboo, is both lightweight and sturdy, and includes an air hole on the end for drying.
  • Disposal: The toothbrush handle can be demoted to household cleaning, upcycled to identify seeds in the garden, or composted.
  • Pricing: The Bamboo Charcoal Toothbrush is priced at $3.49, and the All-in-One Bamboo Travel Toothbrush is priced at $4.99.
  • Types: They offer both manual and electric toothbrushes.
  • Sustainability Factors: The toothbrushes are made from 100% renewable bamboo, are both lightweight and sturdy, and are naturally antimicrobial. The packaging is a Kraft paper box.

4. Brush with Bamboo

Eco-friendly toothbrush made with FSC-certified bamboo handles by Brush with Bamboo brand.

Brush with Bamboo is committed to creating products that are not only effective for oral hygiene but also kind to our planet.

  • Materials: The toothbrushes are made with FSC-certified bamboo handles and 100% Castor Bean Oil bristles, which are USDA Certified 100% Biobased. They are Green America Certified, vegan, and BPA-Free.
  • Case Details: A travel case made from 100% bamboo. The case is designed with small air holes at both ends to allow proper drying of the toothbrush.
  • Disposal: The toothbrushes are compostable and biodegradable.
  • Pricing: The toothbrushes are priced between $4.99 and $19.99.
  • Types: They offer manual toothbrushes.
  • Sustainability Factors: The toothbrushes are plastic-free, made from FSC-certified bamboo

5. EcoRoots

100% compostable and vegan toothbrush by EcoRoots.

We chose this brand because it is committed to vegan and cruelty-free practices while offering a range of eco-friendly products.

  • Materials: The toothbrushes have 100% compostable bamboo handles and 100% recyclable electric toothbrush heads. They are certified vegan and cruelty-free, and the bristles are BPA-free and non-toxic nylon.
  • Case Details: A case is not included with the toothbrush.
  • Disposal: The bamboo handles are compostable, and the electric toothbrush heads are 100% recyclable.
  • Pricing: $14.90 for a set of 4
  • Types: They offer both manual and electric toothbrushes.
  • Sustainability Factors: The toothbrushes are plastic-free, made from compostable and recyclable materials, and are produced using eco-friendly manufacturing practices.

6. Etee

Bamboo based toothbrush with bristles made from castor bean oil by Etee.

Etee is a brand that champions the cause of sustainability through its range of eco-friendly products.

  • Materials: The toothbrushes have bamboo handles and biodegradable brush heads.
  • Case Details: A case is not included with the toothbrush.
  • Disposal: The toothbrushes are compostable and biodegradable.
  • Pricing: From $21.00 for the manual toothbrush with replaceable heads and $190 for the electric toothbrush
  • Types: They offer both manual and electric toothbrushes.
  • Sustainability Factors: The toothbrushes are plastic-free, made from biodegradable materials, and are produced using eco-friendly manufacturing processes. The company also supports community-building organizations.

7. Jordan

Toothbrush made from 100% recycled plastic and bio-based bristles by Jordan.

Jordan is a brand that combines innovation with sustainability.

  • Materials: The toothbrushes are made from 90% recycled materials and have 100% bio-based bristles.
  • Case Details: A case is not included with the toothbrush.
  • Disposal: The toothbrushes are recyclable and compostable.
  • Pricing: From $5
  • Types: They offer manual toothbrushes.
  • Sustainability Factors: The toothbrushes are made from recycled materials and bio-based bristles and are produced using sustainable practices. The company has also won awards for its sustainability efforts.

8. Bleeker and Rowe

The brand Bleeker and Rowe's biodegradable toothbrush and sustainable packaging shown side by side.

Bleeker and Rowe is a brand that is passionate about creating eco-friendly alternatives to everyday products.

  • Materials: The toothbrushes are made from a blend of cornstarch and corn husk.
  • Case Details: A case is not included with the toothbrush.
  • Disposal: The toothbrushes are biodegradable and compostable.
  • Pricing: From $13.59 for a pack of 10 and from $19.99 for the Premium 100% Biodegradable Toothbrushes
  • Types: They offer manual toothbrushes.
  • Sustainability Factors: The toothbrushes have a minimal carbon footprint, are an optimal solution for environmental preservation, and are produced using eco-friendly practices and materials.

9. SURI

Eco-friendly electric toothbrush with recyclable plant based heads and repairable body.

This brand is redefining sustainability in oral care as their toothbrushes, featuring aluminum bodies and plant-based bristle heads, are designed with both effectiveness and sustainability in mind.

  • Materials: The toothbrushes have aluminum bodies, cornstarch heads and bristles derived from castor bean oil (nylon 11). 
  • Case Details: The toothbrushes come with a UV-cleaning case for recharging.
  • Disposal: The bristle heads are compostable, and the aluminum bodies are recyclable.
  • Pricing: $74 - $92 for the electric toothbrush
  • Types: They offer electric toothbrushes.
  • Sustainability Factors: The toothbrushes are made from recyclable aluminum, have compostable bristle heads, and are produced using an eco-friendly manufacturing process.

Final Thoughts

Switching to a sustainable, vegan toothbrush is a simple yet impactful way to reduce your environmental footprint and align your daily routine with eco-friendly values. You can minimize plastic waste and support ethical manufacturing practices by opting for toothbrushes made from biodegradable materials like bamboo, wood, or plant-based bristles.

While sustainable toothbrushes may require a slight adjustment from conventional plastic options, their benefits of reducing pollution, conserving resources, and promoting a cruelty-free lifestyle make them a worthwhile choice. With an increasing number of brands offering stylish and high-performing vegan toothbrush options, it has never been easier to include sustainability in your oral hygiene.

Every small step towards a more conscious lifestyle can create a ripple effect of positive change for our planet. The switch to a sustainable toothbrush contributes towards a greener, more compassionate future. It is a simple act, but one that carries profound significance in the fight against plastic pollution and environmental degradation.

Eco-friendly toothbrush FAQs:

What is the most eco-friendly toothbrush?

The most eco-friendly toothbrush is one made from sustainable, biodegradable materials like bamboo or other plant-based fibers. These fibers are best because they are made from organic materials that can decompose fast and return nutrients to the soil. Plastics do not decompose. Many brands, such as Brush with Bamboo, offer highly eco-friendly toothbrush options made from renewable resources and produced using ethical, environmentally-conscious practices.

Are bamboo toothbrushes actually sustainable?

Yes, bamboo toothbrushes are generally considered a sustainable choice, much better than plastic. Bamboo is a rapidly renewable resource that grows quickly and requires less water and land than other materials. Additionally, bamboo is biodegradable, meaning it can break down naturally without leaving harmful residues in the environment, making it an eco-friendly option.

How eco-friendly are our toothbrushes?

The eco-friendliness of toothbrushes varies depending on the materials used and the manufacturing processes involved. Conventional plastic toothbrushes are not eco-friendly as they are made from non-renewable resources and contribute to plastic pollution. Sustainable toothbrushes made from bamboo, wood, or plant-based materials are much more eco-friendly as they are biodegradable and often produced using ethical and environmentally-conscious practices.

What is the healthiest toothbrush to use?

When it comes to oral health, the most important factor is proper brushing technique and regular use. Both conventional plastic toothbrushes and sustainable options like bamboo toothbrushes can be effective at maintaining good oral hygiene when used correctly. However, some individuals may prefer the softer bristles of plant-based toothbrushes, which can be gentler on the gums. Bamboo also has antimicrobial agents giving them an edge over conventional plastic toothbrushes when it comes to overall hygiene.

How long do bamboo toothbrushes take to decompose?

The decomposition time for bamboo toothbrushes can vary depending on the specific conditions, but generally, they can break down within 6 months to a few years in a compost environment. The plant-based bristles also biodegrade but at a slower rate than the bamboo handle. For example, miscanthus giganteus, a plant often used for biodegradable toothbrushes, takes up to two years to decompose. Much better than never in the case of plastic.

What are the disadvantages of bamboo toothbrushes?

While bamboo toothbrushes offer many environmental benefits, there are a few potential disadvantages to consider. The bristles made from plant-based materials may not be as durable or effective as nylon bristles in some cases. Additionally, bamboo toothbrushes can be more expensive than conventional plastic options, although the long-term environmental benefits often outweigh the initial cost.

What are biodegradable toothbrushes?

Biodegradable toothbrushes are made from materials that can break down naturally over time without leaving harmful residues in the environment. These toothbrushes are typically made from renewable resources like bamboo, wood, or plant-based materials and are designed to decompose safely through biological processes.

Why can't toothbrushes be recycled?

Conventional plastic toothbrushes are typically not recyclable due to their complex composition and the potential for contamination from residual toothpaste and saliva. Many recycling facilities often do not accept the plastic materials used in toothbrushes, such as polypropylene and nylon. Additionally, the small size of toothbrushes can make them difficult to sort and process in recycling plants.

Last Update:
May 23, 2024