Recently I’ve been looking at my dental routine to see if I can make some sensible eco friendly swaps and took a long hard look at my toothbrush. There are all kinds of “zero waste” toothbrushes including those made from bamboo out there so I wondered whether there are any disadvantages of a bamboo toothbrush.
After doing some research I found that although there is a lot of hype around bamboo toothbrushes there are some cons to this eco product. For example I found out that the bristles on the bamboo brush may or may not be made from biodegradable material which is clearly an issue when disposing of your toothbrush.
Let take a closer look at the disadvantages of bamboo toothbrushes.
What Exactly is a Bamboo Toothbrush?
A bamboo toothbrush is a toothbrush made of bamboo – crazy I know! It is an eco-friendly alternative to the plastic toothbrushes that we are used to using.
The bamboo toothbrush has been on a real journey in the last few years becoming probably the most popular of all eco-friendly brushes on the market.
When bamboo toothbrushes first hit the market, they were very basic in design but now manufacturers have really honed their products with ergonomic designs as well as rolling out various bristle types – those being soft, medium and hard.
Some companies have even released electric bamboo toothbrushes such as the Sonic Wave Electric Bamboo Toothbrush.
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EcoShoots Adults Bamboo Toothbrushes
What is Bamboo and Why is Bamboo Sustainable
Bamboo is an environmentally friendly, sustainable material that is used for a wide variety of applications.
From furniture to flooring, bamboo is a versatile material with many benefits.
Bamboo is a fast-growing grass that can grow up to 1 meter per day and has been used as a building material in Asia for centuries.
It has been touted as the “greenest” plant on earth because it can grow without pesticides or fertilizers, while sequestering more carbon dioxide than most plants.
the sustainability of this crop is the main reason why bamboo products have exploded in recent years with companies seeing a real opportunity in targeting the awful plastic toothbrush by producing replacements made from bamboo.
What are the Main Advantages of a Bamboo Toothbrush?
There is no doubt that there are several big benefits to using a bamboo toothbrush the biggest being the reduction of plastic use and waste.
The average toothbrush lasts around 3 months so each and every one of us would need 4 brushes a year. With over 60 million people living in the UK that’s 240 million brushes or brush heads to dispose of annually – just in the UK!
Bamboo of course has another property that adds to the advantage of using a bamboo toothbrush.
With Bamboo being a natural product, it also comes with the added advantage of being biodegradable so you can always be confident that the product will degrade quickly after you’ve discarded it.
Bamboo is also an incredibly strong and durable material making it ideal for producing toothbrushes.
So with all these advantages, what could possibly be considered disadvantages of a bamboo toothbrush
Disadvantages of a Bamboo Toothbrush
The good news is that there are not many disadvantages of a bamboo toothbrush.
It seems to be widely reported across the internet that bamboo toothbrushes do not last as long as plastic brushes.
Whilst technically true, plastic will last longer than bamboo, this is exactly the problem we are trying to avoid!
The key to brush longevity is actually in the bristles as these are the element of the brush that will degrade faster with use. We’ll talk about the bristles in just a moment but needless to say that if you look after your bamboo toothbrush there is no reason why it cannot last as long as other brushes on the market.
One disadvantage is that bamboo brushes can be more expensive than plastic ones. The difficulty here is equating the difference in quality. Bamboo toothbrushes tend to be of better quality and like with everything in life you pay more for a quality product. That said, as bamboo toothbrush manufacturers adapt and evolve their prices will come more in line with alternative brushes.
Another disadvantage can be the packaging that the product comes in. Clearly you do not want to invest in an eco-friendly toothbrush only to have it packaged in non-recycling packaging.
When it comes to electric bamboo toothbrushes you should really check the packaging. I’m certainly no electronics expert but clearly not all the parts in this type of brush will be biodegradable.
So the most important disadvantage to be aware of is in the bristles. The bristles on many of the bamboo toothbrushes available are made from nylon and so unfortunately a toothbrush with nylon bristles cannot be considered fully biodegradable, recyclable or zero waste.
Other Types of Bristles on a Bamboo Toothbrush
A direct replacement for nylon and one that can be considered 100% biodegradable are bristles made from animal hair.
The animal hair used for the bristles of a bamboo toothbrush is typically cut into thin strips and then boiled to sterilize it.
The most common type of hair used for the bristles of the bamboo toothbrush comes from pigs, boars or horses.
It should be noted though that toothbrushes with bristles made from animal hair will be much softer and therefore dentists are not keen on supporting them for dental care.
Of course, another clear disadvantage of these types of bamboo toothbrushes is that they are not suitable for vegans.
The Balance Between Being Biodegradable and Lasting Longer
Clearly a balance must be made. If you go down the route of being fully biodegradable, it’s inevitable that because of the softer animal hair your brush won’t last as long.
However, you can enjoy your toothbrush for longer should you choose a brush option that has nylon bristles.
Are the Any Biodegradable Options to Bamboo Toothbrushes
There are now some options to getting around the disadvantages of a bamboo toothbrush.
As we have already discussed the key to a sustainable toothbrush is in the bristles and there are now products on the market that are producing toothbrushes with plant-based bristles.
One such product is our wooden toothbrush with natural bristles. The handle is actually home compostable and the bristles can be recycled with TerraCycle.
Best of all – it’s a vegan toothbrush!
Wooden Toothbrush with Natural Bristles
Hopefully I’ve provided some of the disadvantages of a bamboo toothbrush.
To summarise I think that the advantages clearly out way the disadvantages when you compare bamboo toothbrushes to a normal plastic brush and really there is no excuse not to make the switch.
However, will fully biodegradable options now on the market perhaps you can switch to a fully zero waste brush which may or may not be made from bamboo.
I’d love to hear from you, have you already made the switch to a bamboo toothbrush or perhaps you’re thinking about changing to a fully biodegradable option.
Let me know in the comment below.