4 Benefits of a Bamboo Toothbrush
Updated: Mar 28
Most toothbrushes nowadays are made entirely out of plastic. We live in a world with over 7 billion people who all brush their teeth about twice a day and use several toothbrushes yearly. This is a massive contribution to landfills and sometimes even oceans so it is time to make your daily oral hygiene more sustainable. This more sustainable alternative is available for a while now and if you haven't switched to a bamboo toothbrush yet, you find 4 reasons here to convince you to do otherwise.
The amount of plastic that is produced in the world is close to 400 million tons per year. Our toothbrushes are often just one of these items. Most toothbrushes are still made from plastic which is made from petroleum, a fossil fuel. The production of plastic is rather inexpensive, which is why it is used so often, but it is not very eco-friendly as it requires lots of energy for its production.
Plastic biodegrades incredibly slowly. But, before it completely biodegrades, it first falls apart into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic, aka microplastics. Microplastic not only is a threat to human life but also to our environment and all life on earth.
To reduce a little of your plastic consumption, you can switch to a bamboo toothbrush. The handle of more sustainable as it is made from bamboo, a natural renewable resource. There are several reasons why bamboo is an awesome crop.
Bamboo growth rate
Bamboo grows exceptionally fast. Some bamboo species have a growth rate of 3cm/1,2 inch per hour. This can be up to 75cm/3 feet per day in the right conditions. Because of this fast growth, bamboo can be harvested multiple times per year, making it a very efficient crop for production.
What makes bamboo very special is that it can absorb much more carbon dioxide and can produce up to 35% more oxygen than many tree species.
If you ever had a need to remove a bamboo plant, you quickly find out this is much harder than you initially thought. This is because bamboo has an amazing root system. This not only keeps the plant firmly in place when it grows quite tall but also prevents soil erosion. An extensive root system holds on to soil preventing it from flushing away with high irrigation or severe rainfall.
What makes the roots even more awesome is that this is the place where the plants store most of their carbon. This means that the carbon that is stored will not be released back into the atmosphere when the shoots/stems are harvested. These stems are removed but the roots stay in place so they can provide nutrition for the shoots that need to be formed again and can hold on to the carbon they absorbed.
Pesticide use in Bamboo
Bamboo doesn’t have lots of natural pests and diseases that can affect it. Therefore, for the production of bamboo, there are much fewer pesticides and chemicals required for crop protection compared to many other plants. There will still be pesticides used for bamboo production but this is a lot fewer compared to cotton for example.
Bamboo is Antimicrobial
Bamboo is actually naturally antimicrobial. Which means almost no worry about bacteria growing in the wood of the handle as a toothbrush is a tool you put into your mouth frequently. In short, this means that they fight microbes while cleaning your teeth. But, even with these antimicrobial attributes, it is always advisable to rinse your toothbrush after use.
Just like the handle, the bristles of all plastic toothbrushes are also made from petroleum (nylon). Unfortunately, there are not many sustainable alternatives for the bristles at the moment. One completely compostable alternative is to use a toothbrush that has boar’s bristles (pig hair). Whether or not you are comfortable with this is up to you. If you are not vegan, perhaps a toothbrush like this would be the right decision for you.
What are the bristles on bamboo toothbrushes made of?
Several toothbrush manufacturers claim that their bristles are made from Nylon-4. This is a petroleum-based plastic that has been shown in lab studies to biodegrade in the soil and in the activated sludge.
However, studies performed in a lab and real life are not the same thing. None of these manufacturers have provided any third-party proof that their toothbrush bristles actually will biodegrade in soil. Let alone in the cold waters of the ocean. Furthermore, it is questionable whether all of them really contain Nylon-4 in the first place. Usually, Nylon-6 is used which is non-biodegradable plastic.
Some companies claim that they have toothbrushes that are 100% biodegradable. Unfortunately, these companies can not show lab results that prove their claim which makes them questionable. Biodegradable toothbrush bristles are still a topic that is under research and hopefully, in the near future, there will be an option that is vegan and 100% compostable.
For now, when you have a sustainable bamboo toothbrush with nylon bristles, remove the bristles before composting the handle.
Just like the toothbrush itself, a plastic toothbrush is often also packed in plastic contributing to landfills. When you purchase a bamboo toothbrush, the manufacturers not only have considered the materials they made the toothbrush from but also select a sustainable method of packaging. I have yet to see a bamboo toothbrush that is packed in plastic. In most cases, a bamboo toothbrush is sustainably packed in paper or, even better, in recycled paper.
A bamboo toothbrush is much more sustainable compared to its plastic counterpart. It not only pollutes less by not using plastic, but it also contributes to a greener planet because of the awesome benefits of bamboo.
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