More consumers are switching to eco-friendly products than ever before. In fact, a 2020 survey found that 70% of consumers cared about buying from sustainable brands.
Consumers were also willing to pay up to 35% more for “green” alternatives to their favorite products.
If you’re interested in lowering your plastic consumption, then you already know how many everyday items rely on the material.
No matter where you are on your eco-journey, one thing is true: The less plastic you use, the better.
One plastic item you can replace today is your toothbrush.
Right now, bamboo is the standard for sustainable manual toothbrush handles. But what are your options if you prefer an electric toothbrush?
Why Are Bamboo Toothbrushes So Popular?
If you’re searching for a sustainable toothbrush, you’ll find very few non-bamboo options. Why is it seemingly the gold standard in the world of plastic alternatives?
The biggest reason bamboo is used to make toothbrush handles is because it grows much quicker than other types of wood. This allows for greater bamboo production on less land and using fewer resources.
Unlike some other crops, bamboo doesn’t take a major toll on the surrounding environment. Bamboo roots can even help keep soil in place, preventing erosion in the area.
To an extent, bamboo is more water-resistant than many hardwood species. When it comes to creating an eco-friendly toothbrush, it makes sense to use this material over other wood types.
Are Bamboo Toothbrushes The Most Sustainable Option?
Few materials can compare to the eco-friendliness of bamboo. However, it’s important to know that this material is not the best we can do.
First, bamboo is not a perfect agricultural crop. Bamboo farms still consume valuable resources. They also encroach on natural wildlife habitats.
You also can’t grow bamboo just anywhere. Most commercial bamboo is grown in China and must be shipped across the globe. This contributes to emissions created by the trade industry.
Almost all toothbrushes manufactured today feature nylon bristles. But that doesn’t change the fact that nylon is extremely hard to recycle.
Even if a toothbrush has a bamboo handle, there’s a very good chance its bristles are still made of nylon.
Bamboo Electric Toothbrush: Does It Exist?
It’s not just marketing. Electric toothbrushes really are the best option for healthy teeth.
Any oral health routine is better than nothing. But studies show that electric toothbrushes are better for gum health and preventing tooth decay.
As with many consumer electronics, some electric toothbrushes are more sustainable than others.
Even if you don’t use one of the best eco-friendly electric toothbrushes, replaceable brush heads can help cut down on plastic waste.
We’ve yet to see a bamboo battery-operated toothbrush hit the market. But replacement brush heads made of bamboo are becoming increasingly popular.
You Can Still Brush With Bamboo
You won’t find an electric toothbrush made entirely of bamboo. For now, silicone and metal are the most sustainable materials being used.
Fortunately, you don’t need to ditch your electric toothbrush to cut down on plastic.
If you take good care of your electric toothbrush, the handle can last for years. The biggest source of plastic is, instead, the replaceable brush heads.
Some clever companies have engineered replaceable brush heads made of bamboo. These work just like the plastic brush heads you already use. The only difference is that they’re biodegradable.
Can You Use Bamboo Heads On Any Electric Toothbrush?
Sadly, there are no major oral care brands currently producing their own bamboo replacement brush heads. A few companies sell aftermarket brush heads that fit popular electric toothbrush handles.
Bamboo heads are not universally compatible. They are designed for specific electric toothbrush models and will not fit any others.
It’s important to double-check your toothbrush model before purchasing bamboo replacement heads.
Bamboo Electric Toothbrush Recommendations
booheads currently sells electric bamboo brush heads compatible with the Sonicare DailyClean and ProtectiveClean product lines. If you dream of having an eco-friendly Sonic toothbrush, the company has plans to release heads compatible with the brand in the future.
Unlike most electric toothbrush heads, booheads do not use nylon bristles. Instead, the bristles are made of bioplastic.
Bioplastics are plant-derived (in this case, cornstarch and castor oil) plastics. While these materials still take many years to break down, bioplastic is better for the environment than nylon.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many bamboo brush heads available right now. But if you use a Philips Sonicare HX6370 (or similar model), Ecoboo heads are an option.
Ecoboo uses a mix of 90% charcoal and 10% nylon to manufacture its toothbrush bristles. The bristles are fairly stiff, so those with sensitive gums should steer clear.
While the nylon content is quite low, you must dispose of these bristles just like 100% nylon ones. You must also remove the bristles before composting or recycling the bamboo handle.
Will Other Eco-Friendly Brush Heads Be Available In The Future?
The lack of options right now is very frustrating. The good news is that many companies are working to develop a more eco-friendly rechargeable electric toothbrush at this very moment.
If you can’t find bamboo brush heads that work for you right now, don’t give up. There’s a good chance they will become available in the near future.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do electric bamboo toothbrush heads get moldy?
One downside of bamboo toothbrushes is that they grow mold easier than plastic ones. This is true for both manual toothbrush handles and electric brush heads.
To prevent the formation of mold, it’s important to let your toothbrush dry completely. Use a towel to remove excess water. Avoid storing your toothbrush in a case or cupboard.
How long do electronic bamboo toothbrush heads last?
According to the American Dental Association, you should replace your toothbrush every three to four months. This also applies to replacing your electric toothbrush head.
Replace your brush head more often if you notice the bristles fraying or showing other signs of wear.
Are electric toothbrush bristles recyclable?
Almost all toothbrush bristles are made of nylon. Unfortunately, nylon is hard to recycle.
Don’t put your nylon toothbrush bristles in the regular recycling bin. Instead, send your bristles and other plastic dental hygiene products to a specialty recycling program. Popular examples include Crest and Oral-B Recycle on Us and the Colgate Oral Care Recycling Program.
Can you compost bamboo toothbrush heads?
You can put bamboo in your compost pile, including the bamboo used to make replaceable toothbrush heads.
Before composting your used brush heads, be sure to remove the bristles with a set of pliers.
The vast majority of toothbrush bristles are not compostable and should be recycled through a special program.
Are electric toothbrushes bad for the environment?
Currently, the most eco-friendly toothbrush available is a bamboo handle with boar hair bristles. But compared to plastic toothbrushes with nylon bristles, electric toothbrushes are better for the environment.
When it comes time to replace a manual toothbrush, you must replace the entire thing. This is not the case with most electric toothbrushes.
By using an electric toothbrush — even one made of plastic — you limit the amount of plastic being thrown away every three to four months. You can improve that number even further by switching to bamboo brush heads.
Are rechargeable toothbrushes sustainable?
Electric toothbrushes come in two styles. The first uses a built-in, rechargeable battery (similar to the one in your smartphone). The second uses single-use batteries (typically AA- or AAA-size).
Not all rechargeable batteries are better for the environment than single-use ones — it depends on how you use them.
In the case of electric toothbrushes, however, rechargeable models are better.
How do I dispose of my old electric toothbrush handle?
No matter how well you care for your electric toothbrush handle, it will eventually reach the end of its usable lifespan. But you shouldn’t discard your old toothbrush in the trash or regular recycling bin.
Unfortunately, many dental hygiene recycling programs don’t accept electric toothbrushes. This varies by program and country, so double-check your regional program’s guidelines.
Instead, the best way to discard an electric toothbrush is through a consumer electronics recycling program in your area.
Last update on 2024-01-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API