The Best Eco Friendly Toothbrush: Keep Your Teeth and the Planet Sparkling Clean

by | Jul 17, 2020

Brushing our teeth—we all do it at least twice a day (if we are all following the dentist’s orders, that is). It’s such an integral part of our everyday, that a toothbrush has been rated higher than cell phones as something people can’t live without. What an accomplishment for the toothbrush!

Since the first plastic toothbrush was created in the 1930s, almost all toothbrushes have been made with plastic. These plastic companions are non-recyclable and impossible to break down. That means the first toothbrush made almost 90 years ago is still out there in the world today, and it’ll be with us for much longer! But, if we opt for more sustainable options, we can prevent adding more toothbrush friends to the landfill that will accompany that pesky 90-year-old plastic!

toothbrush-waste

The ADA recommends that regular toothbrushes get replaced every three months, which explains the 1 billion toothbrushes the U.S. goes through each year. Unfortunately, at the moment, finding a zero-waste toothbrush is virtually impossible. But don’t worry! There are plenty of options far more sustainable than your typical non-recyclable plastic toothbrush. 

With billions of pounds of plastic floating in our oceans, toothbrushes may seem like just a stick in a forest. But as a product we use daily for our whole lives, why not keep as much of our lifetime bundle out of the mix? The toothbrush will go from a pollutant to a daily reminder that all of our decisions to keep our oceans clean and protect the planet make a difference. 

Below are some of our recommendations for your next eco-friendly toothbrush.

Bamboo Toothbrushes

1. Brush with Bamboo

 

brush with bamboo

Brush with Bamboo, calls itself “the world’s first plant-based toothbrush.” Having started in 2012, it just might be. Brush with Bamboo makes sure their entire production process is sustainable, from materials to packaging. The bristles are USDA Certified 100% biobased, made from castor oil. There are no bristle softness options, but consensus seems to be they are medium-soft.

  CONSIDER

“Biobased” plastics are those made from plant-based or organic materials instead of petroleum. While bioplastics are a step in the right direction, they aren’t perfect, and environmental experts and advocates are still pushing for even more impactful innovative alternatives to plastics.

The handle is made from Moso bamboo, one of the bamboo species that pandas do not eat, so  it’s panda safe. (We were all thinking it, phew!) And a stalk of bamboo is planted for each one cut to make toothbrushes, and they will grow to full length (50-75ft) in 2 years. Not only is it safe for pandas, it’s safe for all animals. The toothbrush is completely vegan and is free of any animal testing. 

Bamboo Brushes come in both adult and kids sizes, in packs of 4, 12, or 36. You can also get a 4-pack of adult + kids sizes. There’s an auto-ship subscription option as well, so you’ll never forget to change your toothbrush before the bristles have all gone their separate ways. For traveling, they also offer a bamboo travel case for $20. 

Depending on which pack you choose, a toothbrush ranges from $3.50-$5 each, which is in line with typical toothbrush options. Because they come in multipacks, your initial purchasing price with Brush with Bamboo will be higher than if you opt for a one-at-a-time alternative, but in the end, it balances out (plus you’ll reduce waste in time, gas usage, and packaging). 

In addition to the sustainable saving you’ll be doing by buying in bunches, you’ll be ready for hosting guests (and armed with a great conversation starter)!

  • Price: minimum $20 for a set of 4
  • Materials: bamboo and castor oil
  • Packaging: recyclable paper
  • Disposal: compostable handle and bristles, recyclable packaging
  • Product range: adult + kids sizes, one bristle option
  • Certifications: Green America Green Business Certification, USDA 100% Biobased

2. The Humble Co.

The Humble Co.

The Humble Co. is a Sweden-based eco-friendly oral care company that is “leading a small revolution in oral care products—from design and manufacture to humbleness.” Their flagship product is their bamboo toothbrush, the Humble Brush

The handle is made from 100% sustainably-grown, biodegradable bamboo (also Moso bamboo and also “super panda-friendly”!).

The Humble Brush is made of nylon-6, BPA-free bristles. However, they may not be traditionally recyclable because they are too small. Make sure to check with your local recycling facility to be sure. The bamboo handle is compostable or reusable.

One of the stand-out features of The Humble Co. is that all their products are designed by dentists, so you can be sure you’re using not only an eco-friendly toothbrush that’s good for the earth, but one that’s good for your teeth as well. Their products are thoroughly tested and must have an “evidence-­based benefit and must perform effectively” before they are sold.

The Humble Brush comes in a variety of colors in adult and kids sizes and range from soft to medium for adults and ultra soft for kids. Their charcoal toothbrush only comes in adult sizes. They also offer many different oral care products including a bamboo tongue cleaner, bamboo toothbrush case, charcoal based or plant based floss picks, and toothpaste tablets. For those not into bamboo, they also offer a cornstarch toothbrush

Depending on where you purchase, the price of a toothbrush can range from $5$2.50 each (coming in a pack of 5), so these are pretty in line with the other toothbrushes on this list.

  • Price: $5-$2.50, depending on where you buy it
  • Materials: bamboo and nylon-6 bristles
  • Packaging: eco-friendly and made with recycled materials
  • Disposal: compostable handle, recyclable packaging
  • Product range: adult + kids sizes, medium-ultra soft bristles, other oral care products
  • Certifications: The Vegan Society, certified organic and cruelty-free

3. A Good Company

Another Swedish company on the list, A Good Company, wants to “help people transform from mindless consumption into conscious decision.” The B-Corp Certified company’s online store sells sustainable everyday products, including, of course, their bamboo toothbrush.

Their bamboo toothbrush is made of sustainably grown bamboo (another win for pandas!) and is entirely compostable. The bristles are made with nylon-612, which is similar to the nylon-6 bristles other toothbrushes use (really, the difference is fairly nominal. I spent an inordinate amount of time looking up different types of nylon without becoming a scientist and for a consumer, they’re basically the same thing.)

The toothbrush comes in stone paper packaging—paper made from recycled stone instead of wood—and is recyclable. The toothbrush comes in medium-firm bristles in both adult and kid sizes, and you can choose from seven different colors. You can even personalize it with your name or a logo! 

The price for one toothbrush is $5, which hovers around the standard price so far. But there is a subscription option that lets you save 8%. Some growensemblers who have tried A Good Toothbrush said the bristles didn’t last very long, about two months before they needed a new one, so a subscription is probably your best option.

If you want to get to know the inspiring people behind the A Good Company, check out our podcast episode with Founder and CEO, Anders Ankarlid!

  • Price: $5 (or $4.60 with subscription discount)
  • Materials: bamboo and nylon-612 bristles
  • Packaging: stone recycled paper
  • Disposal:  compostable handle, recyclable packaging
  • Product range: adult and kids sizes
  • Certifications: The Vegan Society, Certified B Corporation

4. Terra & Co

terra co

Terra & Co. is a sister-owned business in LA. They started by making toothpaste that would be safe for pregnant women and kids, but have now branched out into other oral care products, including their Brilliant Black Bamboo Toothbrush.

The Brilliant Black Bamboo Toothbrush is made with naturally grown bamboo without added chemicals or pesticides. The handle is round and has a white ice-cream dipped handle. 

The handle is compostable and will degrade back into the earth within six months in regular backyard compost. Like many environmentally-conscious toothbrush options, you’ll have to remove the bristles to throw the toothbrush into the compost, but Terra & Co. says you can use pliers to pluck them right out. 

Charcoal bristles are what give this toothbrush its Brilliant Black name. The medium-soft bristles are infused with activated charcoal to help whiten teeth. Plus, the toothbrush comes in eco-friendly recyclable paper boxes. 

I’d be remiss not to mention their bamboo, charcoal biodegradable dental floss, which is made with the same sustainability in mind. Maybe that’ll ease the resistance to the world’s least favorite part of the dental hygiene routine?

Getting back on track: The price on this toothbrush is higher than most of the bamboo toothbrushes on this list. At $10 each, it’s a bit of an investment.

  • Price: $10
  • Materials: bamboo and charcoal infused bristles
  • Packaging: recyclable paper boxes
  • Disposal: compostable handle, recyclable packaging
  • Product range: one toothbrush, charcoal toothpaste and floss
  • Certifications: Women’s Business Enterprise (WBENC)

5. Akamai

akamai

Akamai, based in Boulder, CO, is a Certified B-Corp personal care company that truly believes less is more when it comes to personal habits. They’re tackling the personal care industry from all sides, from body care to oral care. Their bamboo toothbrush is one of the more unique bamboo toothbrushes on this list. 

The handle is, of course, made from bamboo and is biodegradable and compostable. The head snaps off to make disposal easier. 

Along with their sustainable bamboo toothbrush, Akamai takes teeth brushing (very) seriously, and they aren’t letting you off the hook with that slap-dash technique you’re used to. They have detailed “How to Use” instructions to really up your brushing game. While “teeth brushing” may not necessarily fit in on your resume, your beaming smile will be a satisfactory consolation. 

The construction of this toothbrush is nothing less than scientifically calculated, built around proficient and effective oral hygiene. The handle is shorter than most other bamboo toothbrushes to improve precision and the bristles are also different from the other toothbrushes on this list. 

Made of the same nylon-612 as A Good Company, there are far fewer bristles than other toothbrushes, placed in only two lines. Totalling 192, the bristles were intentionally designed to be more effective in cleaning gum line build up. 

The bristles are medium, but there’s not too much of a noticeable difference between other brushes. I will admit, the technical design took a little getting used to, but after a few times brushing, it feels fairly normal.  

There is only one toothbrush offered right now and comes in a 2-pack for $10. They also offer a subscription service and a stylish bamboo travel case for $10.

  • Price: $10 for a set of 2
  • Materials: bamboo and nylon-612 bristle
  • Packaging: recyclable paper for the toothbrush and shipped in recyclable box
  • Disposal: Compostable handle, recyclable packaging
  • Product range: one toothbrush option, but other oral care products
  • Certifications: Certified B Corporation, 1% for the Planet

Plastic Toothbrushes

There aren’t many eco-friendly plastic toothbrush options, but here are two good ones we like.

6. Preserve

preserve

In terms of environmental impact, Preserve scores in the top 10% of all B Corps (talk about crème de la crème!). CEO & Founder, Eric Hudson, came on our podcast to share about the mission and motivations behind Preserve—definitely worth a listen! We also mentioned Preserve in our 10 Favorite Planet-Friendly Businesses and their toothbrush is part of the reason why. 

The handle is made with recycled yogurt cups (and love, aw!) and is recyclable through Preserve’s mail-in recycling program or their Gimme 5 recycling program with Whole Foods. It was designed with a curved handle for a more natural and comfortable feel and to get those hard-to-reach places and it took only one brushing for me to get used to it. Other Preserve-users on the Grow Ensemble team actually now prefer the curve—a preference for toothbrush ergonomics we never even knew possible. 

Preserve toothbrushes are BPA free and come in a wide variety of colors.

The bristles are made out of 100% virgin nylon (which is just brand new nylon) and ranges from ultra soft to medium. They come in adult and kid sizes and in a single, 2, or 6-pack. You can order the brush in a travel case made from recycled materials or in a Lightweight Pouch designed with the Boston non-profit Artists for Humanity.

One of Preserve’s most exciting programs is their Preserve Ocean Plastic Initiative (POPi), where they make products like toothbrushes and razors from recycled ocean plastics. As lovers of the small action for big impact, this definitely stole the spotlight for us! 

The Preserve toothbrush is also the most affordable eco-friendly toothbrush on the list at only $3.49 ($3.79 with a travel case) or $19 for 6. Their POPi toothbrush rings up at the same price.

  • Price: $3.49
  • Materials: recycled plastic and nylon bristles
  • Packaging: recycled packaging materials or reusable traveling case
  • Disposal: recyclable with mail-in program or Gimme 5 program
  • Product range: adult + kids sizes, POPi toothbrush, many other home items
  • Certifications: Certified B Corporation

7. BogoBrush

bogobrush

Bogobrush is another sibling-owned toothbrush company (children of a dentist) that focuses not only on being eco-friendly and sustainable but also gives back to the community. They follow the buy-one-give-one model donating to a few community partners with each toothbrush purchased, they plant trees, and they donate supplies to support low-cost or no-cost dental clinics.

Bogobrush only offers one brush, but with two different options. The recyclable option is made from recycled plastics—plastic #5, which is the same Preserve uses. The recyclable option is just that, easily recyclable and able to be thrown in your own recycling bin. The biodegradable option uses Plant-based PLA (plant based plastic) made from corn, sugar cane, and sugar beets starch. The biodegradable toothbrush handle is compostable and even safe for backyard compost piles after plucking out the bristles.

Both toothbrushes use nylon bristles that are qualified “soft bristles” with ceramic finished tips. You can choose a toothbrush with a stand made of the same material as the handle or without. A planet friendly option to ditch the dirty cup in your restroom. 

The toothbrushes come in a reusable or recyclable plastic tube, but they are hoping to introduce a paper packaging option when costs allow for it. We were a little disappointed to see Bogobrush hasn’t signed on for any third-party certifications, but they won us over with their transparency.

The Bogobrush is a little pricier than the others at $13.95 without the stand, but they do offer a subscription for 40% off.

  • Price: $13.95-$18.15 (40% off with subscription)
  • Materials: recycled plastic or plant based PLA and nylon bristles
  • Packaging: recyclable plastic tube
  • Disposal: recyclable or compostable hande
  • Product range: recyclable or biodegradable option
  • Certifications: None that we saw

Other Environmentally-Conscious Options

Eco-Friendly Replaceable Toothbrush Heads

boie-brush

BoieUSA sells two different toothbrushes with replaceable brush heads as well: The Original and The Fine, both $10 each. The toothbrush heads and handles are made with TPE, a silicone-like material, and the head is designed to last twice as long as traditional designs. 

Notably, both the handle and replaceable head are fully recyclable! When it’s time for a new toothbrush, your old one can be recycled at home, or you can send it back to BoieUSA to do the dirty work for you. 

NYC-based company, Radius offers The Source Brush with a replaceable head. The handle is made from repurposed and recycled materials and the head is designed to last at least 9 months. The Source toothbrush reduces plastic waste by 93%.

Eco-Friendly Electric Toothbrushes

While electric toothbrushes seem like the closest option to a zero waste toothbrush, they’re actually not. Most electric toothbrush heads need to be replaced every three months, like normal toothbrushes, but the electric toothbrush heads get tossed in the trash and end up in a landfill like other non recyclable plastic toothbrushes. 

And if an electric toothbrush stops working, it usually ends up in the trash as well, along with their often toxic batteries. Some electric toothbrushes also use a lot of electricity and energy and the longer in use, the shorter the battery life.

So even though there’s no such thing as a 100% sustainable electric toothbrush, there are a few options out there that are at least trying to be eco-friendly. The ISSA 2 by Swedish company Foreo (Swedes at it again!) boasts a battery life of 1 year after only one charge and a head that only needs to be replaced once a year. They also have an electric toothbrush for babies with silicone bristles, which we thought was pretty precious.

The ISSA 2 is much costlier than other manual options and even other electric toothbrushes at $169 (or $99 for the baby brush), but it might be worth the investment. Just a heads up, some reviewers have had trouble with the silicone bristles and the size of the brush. 

Quip is another electric toothbrush that is concerned with sustainability. Instead of a built in battery, Quip encourages the use of rechargeable batteries, although they are not included with your purchase. One overnight charge lasts for three months. The handle is made out of aluminum and built to “last a lifetime.” Unfortunately, the head is not recyclable.

Keep Your Smile and Earth Happy

In terms of opting for eco-friendly products into our day-to-day lives, toothbrushes are one of the most universal. They contribute significantly to environmental pollution and we all use them daily. What does that mean? Well, if they are a big problem, then changes on our part can make a big impact!

Fortunately, there are a lot of great options out there for more sustainable toothbrush choices and hopefully this list helps you narrow down what may be best for you. If you have any additional suggestions for products that we left off the list, shoot us a message and let us know so we can spread the word!

Melissa Zepeda

Melissa Zepeda

Contributor

Melissa is a graphic designer by trade who loves to find opportunities to try new things wherever she can. Hailing equally from Denver and Houston, she now lives in San Antonio with her little monster/pup. You can keep up with Melissa on her website.

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