PLASTIC FREE HOME: A toothbrush that really will make you smile

With David Lamont

David LamontIf I asked you, “What do you brush your teeth with?” your answer would probably be “a toothbrush”. But what kind of toothbrush?

It is estimated that 3.6 billion plastic toothbrushes are used worldwide every year and that the average person uses more than 300 in their lifetime. Research has found that a large proportion of these end up in our oceans, taking hundreds if not thousands of years to break down.

Electric toothbrushes have become increasingly popular but naturally they require electricity. And a battery. And they’re made of plastic. As are the heads that must be replaced regularly. So they aren’t really the answer.

Enter Bamboo toothbrushes, supported by leading dental experts including Dr Coyle, clinical director at BUPA Dental Care.

While most Bamboo toothbrushes have bristles made of (BPA free) Nylon 4, Nylon 6 or similar, with the heads easily removed the rest of the toothbrush (around 80%) is home compostable. If everyone in the UK made the switch to Bamboo toothbrushes we could save a quarter of a billion plastic toothbrushes in a year. A small and very easy way to make a big difference.

Bamboo toothbrushes are inexpensive, now widely available and will last as long as a plastic one. The British Dental Association advises changing your toothbrush, whatever it is made of, every three months. They’re fine for children too.

When selecting a Bamboo toothbrush, look for one that is home compostable. Biodegradable is not necessarily the same and may mean that a brush will only break down in an industrial composter, which it may never reach, or only in specific landfill conditions. A Bamboo toothbrush will break down in around six months.

Ensure that the toothbrush is made from Moso Bamboo (or similar), fast growing and not eaten by Pandas, and that it is FSC certified, meaning that the Bamboo is grown sustainably and ethically. Ideally the toothbrush will also be vegan and cruelty free, and perhaps fair trade. Oh, and don’t buy one with plastic packaging.

Bamboo is an environmentally friendly option as it is fast growing, regenerates quickly and naturally, requires no pesticides and very little water. It is also more efficient than most trees at removing carbon dioxide from the air and in producing oxygen in its place.

Some of the brands worth considering include Bambuu (£2), Maboo (£2.50), The Environmental Toothbrush (£2.65), Georganics (£3.90) and the Humble Co (£3.99).

The Pearly White Club is also an interesting option; they will deliver adult and children’s toothbrushes every six weeks for £2-£3 per each. Some of these options will also allow you to choose the colour of your handle and whether you like soft or firmer bristles.


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