If you are trying to make your bathroom more sustainable, and reduce your household waste one step at a time, making the transition to a more sustainable toothbrush is a great place to start! There are so many claims of eco-friendly toothbrushes on the market right now, so this post is meant to simplify your choice a little, by comparing some of the top sustainable toothbrushes from my research.
The good news is, that if you are a good brusher, regular flosser, and you go to the dentist for your check-ups, you will probably be happy with an inexpensive zero waste non-electric toothbrush, and there are a few good options for you below! Unfortunately, if you are looking for an alternative to your current electric toothbrush, there is no perfect sustainable option, but you can definitely find one that is way more sustainable than traditional plastic electric toothbrushes!
Some Quick Facts:
- 1 billion toothbrushes are thrown away every year in the U.S.
- Plastic toothbrushes create over 50 million pounds of waste each year in U.S. landfills
- There is currently no PERFECT environmentally friendly toothbrush
The most common “eco-friendly” toothbrushes are made of bamboo, which is a sustainable resource, in that it is an extremely fast growing plant that makes a durable wood, and it can be composted within 4-6 months (unlike plastic that is thought to take 500+ years to decompose). However, most bamboo is grown in China, which means it has to make the long journey to the United States or other countries before it gets to you, emitting a lot of pollution and creating a large carbon footprint along the way.
Keep in mind that even companies that manufacture their plastic products in the U.S, are still often sourcing materials from elsewhere. So at least using a toothbrush made of biodegradable materials with a more eco-friendly end of life cycle, can dramatically decrease the environmental impact of your oral care routine.
Things to look for in an eco-friendly toothbrush:
- made from bio plastic, up-cycled/recycled or sustainable materials that are bio-degradable or compostable
- less material used (e.g. replaceable heads, minimal design)
- packaging that is minimal, truly recyclable, or better yet, compostable and plastic free
- durability (the longer it lasts, the less waste it creates)
- companies that are offsetting their emissions in other ways (e.g. facilities that use renewable energy, genuine waste reduction efforts at factories, planting trees, etc)
The moral of the story is that there is no perfect solution for the toothbrush waste problem, but the toothbrushes below are definitely a huge improvement from standard plastic toothbrushes.
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This 100% biodegradable vegan bamboo eco-friendly toothbrush comes in plant-based packaging and the soft plant-based bristles are made 100% from vegetable oil.
This is a solid alternative to throw away plastic toothbrushes, because it lasts just as long. Brush with Bamboo is the brand I used for over a year, before transitioning to the electric toothbrush below.
Both the bristles and handle can be composted! Unlike many bamboo toothbrushes that claim to be “biodegradable”, but use nylon bristles, this ENTIRE tooth brush is made of plant based materials and is truly biodegradable. They come in a pack of 4, which can last one person a full year. This is the most affordable truly eco-friendly option.
Sustainable Tomorrow’s toothbrush comes with fully biodegradable replaceable heads. The head is made of bamboo with plant-based bristles made of castor seeds oil, and they can decompose in your at-home compost. The toothbrush also comes with zero-waste packaging & delivery!
I started using this toothbrush in early 2022, and love it!
Note: The base of the toothbrush is made of plastic, as per safety standards and waterproof requirements. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to find a fully plastic free electric brush, but this one stood out because even the bristles on the replaceable head are biodegradable (unlike the others on the market).
- 4 eco-friendly replacement heads included (each one lasts 3 months)
- 4 Hours charge for 30 days of use
- Sonic technology & 3 Intensity levels reaching up to 40,000 VPMs
- 5 Cleaning modes (including a mode for sensitive teeth)
- 2-minute timer (with 4 x 30-second intervals)
Do you already have a good electric toothbrush? You can buy biodegradable bamboo replacement heads for Philips Sonicare here. If you already have an Oral B electric toothbrush, unfortunately there are no biodegradable replacement heads on the market, but supposedly you can recycle your oral care plastic waste through the company directly here.
This is a 100% plant based toothbrush! This eco-friendly and zero plastic toothbrush is cruelty-free and vegan (Certified by Leaping Bunny). This two-part brush consists of a reusable bamboo handle combined with a replaceable, 100% plant-based brush head made of soft castor bean oil bristles. Responsibly made in the USA.
When the bristles get worn out, you just swap the old head for a new plant-based brush head, creating less waste material to compost.
Bite – Bamboo Brush
This is another excellent 100% plant-based toothbrush, made from Moso bamboo, and the bristles are made from the castor bean plant.
Bite is also a plastic free company that offsets emissions on their orders.
It’s great for travel because you can detach the head and slide the two halves into a travel case, making the toothbrush easily portable.
While I think the Bite toothbrush concept is great (my mom uses it and loves it), I’m not a fan of Bite’s toothpaste bits. I much prefer these SuperBee eco-friendly toothpaste tablets, because they foam up in your mouth and leave you with a cleaner feel.
This is a 100% biodegradable plastic free toothbrush made of bamboo and boar bristle. These natural boar bristle toothbrushes come from a special breed of boar (this is not vegan). The bristles are carefully harvested and then boiled to make them straighter and super hygienic.
It comes with 6 toothbrushes in minimal and compostable eco-friendly packaging. This toothbrush is perfect for someone who wants slightly harder bristles than the vegan castor oil options above.
Boar bristles can be saved from the landfill after boars have been dispatched for meat purposes. Repurposing these natural boar hairs for bristles prevents the creation of methane gases. However, they can also contribute further to the unsustainable meat industry or raising specific boars just for their hair.
Radius – Upcycled & Plant Based Toothbrushes
Radius is a woman owned company that offers a few environmentally conscious toothbrushes made in the USA.
The Big Brush is made with a plant-based handle that is bio-degradable in landfills and recyclable and plant based bristles.
The Source Brush is made with upcycled paper, wood, and dollar bills. It comes with bristles that are meant to last 6+ months rather than the standard 3 months, which reduces waste. You can save 93% of toothbrush waste by using a replacement head toothbrush.
This slim and sleek electric toothbrush has an aluminum handle, making it *slightly* less wasteful and contaminating than entirely plastic brushes.
Unfortunately, the replacement heads are plastic, but they do come in 100% recyclable packaging.
The quip brush is powered by AAA batteries, for three months at a time, so there are no inconvenient chords or charging stands, which also makes it great for travel. You can use rechargeable batteries and a solar battery charger to make it more sustainable.
This is the least sustainable of the options above, since you can’t recycle the heads, but I figured I’d mention it since it is a popular, affordable dentist recommended electric toothbrush.
Before you “trash”, recycle or compost your old toothbrush, here are some ideas for upcycling them first:
- Clean small areas and crevices in your house that are difficult to access (e.g. tile grout, window trim and frame)
- Clean sports equipment (e.g. bike chain, shoes)
- Clean dust and debris from your computer keyboard or other electronics
Once it’s time to “compost” your bamboo toothbrush or replaceable bamboo toothbrush head…
The bamboo toothbrush handles, bamboo head and handle sets, and boar and castor oil bristles listed above can be composted in an industrial composting facility or put in your home compost. Eventually everything will break down into nutrient rich soil, which can be used by plants as food.
That being said, it is recommended to use pliers to remove the staples that hold the bristles into the bamboo handle and recycle them. You can put them inside an aluminum tin or can (since they are so small) and then include them in your recycle.
If you don’t want to remove the staples, they won’t biodegrade, but as long as only small amounts of metal enter your compost, you should be fine. The metal should be able to chemically break down and not harm your plants. Please note that too much aluminum can throw off the pH levels in soil, and can stress out plants. I personally compost tea bags with staples though, and haven’t had any issues.
Just remember: it’s SO MUCH BETTER to have many people trying to be sustainable imperfectly, then just a few doing it perfectly.
Check out some of my other favorite sustainable personal care products here.