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May 16, 2011

Eco-Friendly Toothbrush Review

 

08/24/2013 Update: My new favorite bamboo toothbrush is called Brush with Bamboo.  Read the full review here.  It wasn’t around back when I wrote this post.

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What toothbrush would you choose? Recycled plastic in returnable packaging or natural wood packaged in plastic? Nylon bristles or natural pig hair? Or how about a stick that you chew on? I’ve been researching toothbrush alternatives and found that they all have pros and cons. How you brush your teeth will depend on your environmental and ethical priorities, I think. There’s no perfect answer. Which would you choose?

Preserve Recycled/Recyclable Toothbrush

Preserve recycled toothbrush

Materials: 100% post-consumer recycled polypropylene #5 plastic and Nylon bristles. Recycled plastic wrapper which doubles as a prepaid mailer.

Origin: Made in the United States.

Why it’s good: I don’t use the word “recyclable” lightly. If a company claims its product can be recycled but doesn’t provide an actual way to recycle it, then I don’t consider it recyclable at all. Preserve DOES provide a way to return its plastic products for recycling (some would say “downcycling) so I give them props for practicing extended producer responsibility.

Preserve toothbrushes are made from recycled yogurt containers and other post-consumer #5 polypropylene plastic that is returned to them through their Gimme5 program. You can bring your used #5 plastics (all Preserve products, other #5 containers, medicine bottles, Brita filters, Tom’s deodorant containers, etc.) to participating Whole Foods stores or mail them back to Preserve. The toothbrush wrapper doubles as a prepaid mailer. When you’re done with your toothbrush, just stick it in the mail. The mailer will be recycled along with the toothbrush. Personally, though, I prefer to save them up and take them to Whole Foods to avoid the extra fuel to ship individual toothbrushes. But I appreciate Preserve’s efforts to make recycling easy for customers.

Less Than Perfect: Keep in mind, though, that Preserve’s recycling program does not actually close the recycling loop. Toothbrushes are recycled into plastic lumber, which does nothing to decrease the demand for virgin plastic to create those yogurt containers, Brita filters, and other packaging, but it does decrease the demand for virgin plastic toothbrushes and slows down the plastic’s journey to the landfill.

Also? This toothbrush is made from plastic. It you don’t want to put plastic anywhere near your mouth, this is not the toothbrush for you.

How it Works: I have been using these toothbrushes since 2007. I like the bent handle and soft bristles.

Giveaway: I have 5 Preserve toothbrushes to give away to one winner of the drawing. If this is your pick for the best toothbrush, be sure and say so in the comments. Update: The winner of the 5 Preserve toothbrushes is Erin. Congratulations!

Environmental Toothbrush

Environmental toothbrush

Materials: Bamboo handle, Nylon bristles, cardboard box, polypropylene inner wrapper.

Origin: Made in Australia. (Correction: Designed in Australia/Made in China.)

Why It’s Good: Most of the Environmental toothbrush and packaging are plastic-free and compostable. And the company cites an article in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, which states that Nylon 4 — the material from which the bristles happen to be made — is also biodegradable in soil:

9.2. Nylon 4
It has been reported that nylon 4 was degraded in the soil [88] and in the activated sludge [89]. The results confirmed that Nylon 4 is readily degradable in the environment. Furthermore, the biodegradability of nylon 4 and nylon 6 blends was investigated in compost and activated sludge. The nylon 4 in the blend was completely degraded in 4 months while nylon 6 was not degraded [90]. Recently, Yamano et al. was able to isolate polyamide 4 degrading microorganisms (ND-10 and ND-11) from activated sludge. The strains were identified as Pseudomonas sp. The supernatant from the culture broth of strain ND-11 degraded completely the emulsified nylon 4 in 24 h and produced γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) as degradation product [91].

Less Than Perfect: The inner white sleeve around the toothbrush is actually made from nonwoven polypropylene plastic, not paper. After receiving a shipment of the toothbrushes for the giveaway, I was curious about the shiny coating inside the wrappers and emailed the company to find out what it was. James Wilson, the company’s International Sales Manager wrote to find out, and that’s when we both discovered that the wrapper is made with plastic. According to the company:

This is as green as we could make the packaging and still pass all health restrictions when packaging a toothbrush.

How it Works: The bristles are a little harder than the Preserve bristles that I’m used to, so I have just been learning not to brush as hard. And I had to get used to the shorter handle. But it’s a basic toothbrush. It works fine.

Giveaway: I have two sets of 5 toothbrushes to give away to 2 winners. Let me know if you think the Environmental Toothbrush is the best. Update: The winners of the Environmental Toothbrushes are Lee and Lori.

Life Without Plastic’s Plastic-free Wooden Toothbrush

Plastic-free Wooden Toothbrush

June 16, 2011 Update:  Life Without Plastic has informed me that due to federal regulations requiring the manufacturer to register its products with the FDA (which the German maker of these toothbrushes has opted not to do), this toothbrush is no longer available in the United States.  Life Without Plastic hopes to be able to offer a similar toothbrush option soon.

Materials: Sustainably-harvested beechwood handle preserved with vegetable oil, natural bristles made from pig hair, small cellophane wrapper around the head of the toothbrush (cellophane is made from trees.)

Origin: Made in Germany. Pig hair imported from China.

Why it’s Good: The Life Without Plastic toothbrush is the only completely plastic-free toothbrush I have found. If your priority is to completely avoid plastic, this could be the toothbrush for you. And I love that the manufacturer uses such a small amount of packaging.

Less than Perfect: The bristles come from long-haired pigs that are raised for food. If you are vegetarian or vegan, this is not a toothbrush for you. But if you eat meat and see value in using part of the animal that would have gone to waste, this toothbrush might be your best bet. By the way, Jay from Life Without Plastic says they will continue to look for a natural AND vegetarian option.

How it Works: Honestly? I don’t know. I am a vegetarian and don’t want to try it. But if you try it, let us know how it works out for you.

Giveaway: Life Without Plastic will give 5 toothbrushes to one lucky winner who thinks this toothbrush is the best option. Update:  The winner of the toothbrushes is Slow Fashioned.

Other Toothbrush Options

The three toothbrushes reviewed above are the only ones I seriously considered for this post. But there are other options that contain varying degrees of plastic, so I thought I would mention them. (These are not part of the giveaway.)

Radius Source toothbrush: The durable toothbrush handle is made from recycled materials (flax, wood, or dollar bills.) But the disposable toothbrush head is made from plastic and is not taken back for recycling. What’s more, the toothbrush comes in a plastic blister pack.

Swissco wooden toothbrush with natural bristles: The toothbrush itself is plastic-free (although not vegetarian) but it comes in a hard plastic case.

Acca Kappa toothbrush with natural bristles: The Acca Kappa handle is made from cellulose acetate, which is produced from wood and cotton byproducts. The bristles are not vegetarian. And sadly, the toothbrush comes in a plastic container.

Neem Chew Sticks

And now, for a completely different alternative, I’m considering skipping the toothbrush altogether and chewing on sticks.

In researching toothbrush options for this post, I discovered something called Miswak sewak, used in the Arab world for natural toothbrushing. You peel off the bark at the tip and then chew the end to separate the fibers. Then you use the fibers to brush your teeth, and when they wear out, you cut off the tip and work your way down the stick. I thought it sounded like a neat idea, except all the miswak sticks come sealed in plastic.

Then Jay mentioned they are similar to Neem sticks which have been used for centuries in India. And today, I discovered a company called Neem Tree Farms in the United States, which ships Neem Sticks fresh the same day they are harvested. I was assured they can be shipped without plastic packaging (in fact, the web site recommends not storing them in plastic), so I ordered a batch today to try.

Neem chew sticks toothbrush

Neem Tree Farms has farms in Florida and Mexico.  The company also sells seedlings so you can grow your own, but I have to see how I feel about the sticks first. That will be a post for another day.

And my next oral care dilemma will be finding a good plastic-free toothpaste replacement, now that Tom’s of Maine has switched to plastic tubes. I’ve gotten lots of advice from people, but I can always use more.



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162 comments
VishalChandel
VishalChandel

nice article,plastic is not good for our enviorment and to us also.i use neem stick and another stick called timber stick for theeth cleaning instead of a plastic brush.it has a great taste and feels natural.i suggest other people too use neem stick or timber stick,if anyone want i can send them.


Pravin
Pravin

Nice article. I have recently started evaluating my plastic consumption and have slowly decreased my intake so far. I was pleasantly surprised at the mention of the Neem tree sticks. I am from India and there are plenty of Neem trees. Infact, as a child, my grandfather would make us brush our teeth with the sticks. We even eat the Neem flowers and the leaves have antibacterial properties!! This post brought back all the memories! Well, on my next trip home, I'm gonna get some sticks for myself :)

Amazing how we take last generation's things for granted!

lwheelr
lwheelr

I'm allergic to plastic, so your reviews, especially the last option for Neem sticks NOT packaged in plastic, is invaluable information for me. Even contact with plastic by items that I use keeps me hypersensitized, so every bit I can eliminate helps me control the reactions (life threatening if not controlled).

ElizabethPortant
ElizabethPortant

Here's a recipe for tooth powder I found here:

http://frugallysustainable.com/2012/03/the-benefits-of-brushing-with-tooth-powder-and-a-make-your-own-recipe/

It's natural and the whole family can use it!

The Ingredients

-4 parts bentonite clay

-1 part baking soda

-1/2 part myrrh gum powder

-1/2 part ground cloves

-1/2 part ground stevia

-essential oils of cloves and cinnamon

Directions

1. Add all ingredients to a mason jar. Tightly close the lid and shake jar until well combined.

2. To use, apply a small amount of tooth powder to your tooth brush with a spoon and brush as you normally would.

MerleeSherman
MerleeSherman

Thriving Toothbrush:

100% Bamboo Toothbrush (including bristles)

Compostable and vegan! Shipped from the United States (not known where the product is made) in recycled & recyclable paper. Fairly economical compared to market prices.


http://www.surthrival.com/portfolios/thriving-toothbrush/


Uncle Harry's Toothpaste:

This company is located less than 10 miles from where I live, and have let me coordinate with them to refill my mason jars rather than purchasing the product in new container (although the jars are glass with a plastic lid). I love this product, although I am not sure if I would continue if they were not so accommodating to my plastic-free life.


"This is a non-toxic toothpaste, free of preservatives, synthetic foaming agents, abrasives and glycerine. The ionic minerals in this toothpaste supply significant amounts of calcium and magnesium for healthy teeth."

http://www.uncleharrys.com/store/product_info.php/tooth-paste-peppermint-glass-jar-p-2226?osCsid=5reiqo58ihnf7v6908fco94iv6#!tab1


Magnus SE
Magnus SE

Very interesting discussion and valuable information! Well done!

Magnus SE

Kitten
Kitten

I hate that Tom's has switched.  Even apart from the plastic issue, the old ones you could just flatten as you go up and fold it over to keep the paste in place - flexible plastic tubes have to be reflattened each time you squeeze.  More hassle for more waste.  I asked and they said they have recieved requests to package in flexible plastic for years - this was a 'caving to public demand' choice.  Unfortunately.

Malena from THinc
Malena from THinc

We have been wondering about what you do in  this department...thank you for this!

Holly
Holly

Brooks sells a pearwood toothbrush with boar bristles. It does come in a hard plastic travel-type container though.

Annie
Annie

I make all of my personal cosmetic products, including toothpaste. This is THE best way to take care of ourselves and the planet, in my opinion. Here's the toothepaste recipe I use : Mix 40 ml of water, 6 tablespoons of white kaolin clay (used for facial masks), 4 pinches of baking soda and 8 drops of mint essential oil. Makes 50 ml total with a pleasant taste and refreshing feeling similar to conventional toothpaste. Put it in a small glass container with a lid and dip your toothbrush in! I just visited the dentist and confirmed that my teeth are healthy. However, I agree with the people who commented about how brushing is the key to healthy teeth, not necessarily the toothpaste.

DanielColman
DanielColman

I just received a pack of the Environmental Toothbrushes, they didn't come in a plastic sleeve, they were just loose individual little cardboard boxes as pictured. Weh Hey!

AnnaDaugherty
AnnaDaugherty

I could go on hour long rants about the toxins in shampoo, make up, hair products and everyday objects, but i'll save you from that and just rant about toothpaste and how it is cheaper and better for you and the environment to use. make your own toothpaste from coconut oil, baking soda, peppermint oil, and stevia. i refuse to use commercial toothpaste because of what is in it, the first ingredient is normally an artificial sugar (sorbitol) and fluoride is dangerous to your own health and the environment (those are NOT the only two harmful ingredients). i make it in a small glass jar, and re-use the jar when all is done. it is much safer than any commercial alternative as the plastic free toothpaste containers are normally made out of aluminum which is very costly to the environment (the energy it takes to produce the aluminum in one stick of deodorant could power a laptop for thirty minutes) and hazardous to  your health because it has been linked to alzheimers. the toothpaste takes a while to get used to, but my dentist has been complementing my teeth and how she has not seen a mouth as clean as mine in a few years (plus, i have braces). you should look up the studies done on baking soda (stops cavities as soon as comes in contact) and coconut oil (anti-bacterial). you could also use coconut oil as a mouth wash because its anti-bacterial qualities are so strong and it is recommended that you swallow it because it is extremely good for you. plus, coconut oil comes in a glass jar, and baking soda comes in a cardboard container. 

kanishka
kanishka

update on environmental toothbrush from the company: "In our next production run we will be removing the inner sleeve as this has been a challenge for many people, we will not have that stock until early next year." i still want to see production local to each region - asian produciton for asian clients. north american production for american clients, etc... if i understand, it is possible to source local bamboo. i can't imagine it is too difficult to find a factory in each region who can make such a simple design if they solved the plastic nylon bristles issue (but replace with what other vegan option i don't know?), environmental toothbrush would be far far ahead of the pack. btw, i'm trying to organzie a group order of these to north america. i can coordinate, if some people email me expressing interest nish2575 at gmail. i'll also try to post this to the forums when i get some time.

Ms. Adventuress
Ms. Adventuress

Thank you so much for this post. I've been using Preserve, while keeping my eye out for something better. Thanks to your post, I've ordered a case of The Environmental Toothbrushes. Not perfect, but as close as I've seen, especially since boar hair is not okay with me, for a multitude of reasons (I wouldn't use a human-based hair bristle in my mouth, either...unless it was my own human hair). Keep up this great work!

yaga
yaga

I think on this topic it's of importance to remark that natural fiber toothbrushes (made mostly from pig hair) have been found to not be the most hygienic thing. The hair has a little canal in the middle which will fill with tiny particles from the stuff that you brush away from your teeth. This will naturally encourage growth of bacteria. If you use those, you should change them veeery frequently, or put them in boiling water from time to time. There is a company in Germany that makes toothbrushes and toothbrush-heads from the sticks which seems more practical - if it works. I haven't tried them yet and don't know how plastic free they are. This world really could do with a real toothbrush solution... oO love yaga

Sandra
Sandra

#91, 98: I also have a set of the Izola bamboo-handled toothbrushes. I was able to purchase them at a store in the U.S., but you can also order them direct through Izola's website. As with the other toothbrushes mentioned, this one has its own set of pros and cons. A pack of four toothbrushes is packaged in a cardboard box but is (unfortunately) topped off with a non-recyclable plastic lid. The brushes are designed in the U.S., made in China. As Brianna mentioned above, the bristles are made of regular nylon-6 and have a consistency similar to Preserve's "soft" bristles. I'm on my second brush and have not experienced any mold, cracking, or noticeable bacterial build-up with the unvarnished bamboo handle. It does help to use a toothbrush holder so the handle has a chance to dry in between brushings. When it comes to disposal, I plan to cut off the nylon bristles and include the bamboo handle with the rest of the branches/twigs/leaves that my town picks up for municipal composting. I doubt any bamboo handled toothbrush will biodegrade easily in a home composting system. Hope this helps.

tanya
tanya

I've been switching over things gradually and I'm onto toothbrushes and shaving razors. I'm interested in either the Preserve or Environmental but I'm debating over the environmental impact, US Made, less shipping on the Plastic recycled material and downcycling of Preserve over the bamboo, no plastic but shipping from AUS of Environmental, UGH.

Cheryll
Cheryll

Interesting topic. My favourite toothbrush is a TerraDent. http://www.eco-dent.com/ These are plastic, but the handle is made to be reused by replacing only the head. Did you know that some toothbrushes actually use metal staples to attach the bristles? I would never compromise on a good quality toothbrush, and I am concerned about the amount of plastic discarded. This company also makes GentleFloss, a fantastic dental floss that comes in a recycleable paper box. It's vegan too!

Sandra
Sandra

@ Yuki: Thanks for clarifying that the aluminum tubes are 100% recyclable. I hope you'll take the time to mention this in your own letter to Tom's of Maine;)

yuki
yuki

@ Sandra Sorry to disappoint you but metal is not biodegradable. I know you probably put your aluminum toothpaste tubes on the recycling bin but if you put them in the trash it's no better than plastic. Granted, it will probably not be floating in the ocean among others plastic crap but the thing fun with metal is that usually it's recyclable an infinite number of times compared to plastic. i am not against it, I just wanted to point out that it's not biodegradable.

Dayna De Hoyos
Dayna De Hoyos

Seems to me that they are both environmentally friendly to a great degree, now we are just being nitpicky. I think the next question is how healthy is each one for me? I think the plastic one is because it has less porous areas to grow bacteria, therefore being less risky for bacteria growth. It think the bamboo toothbrush could be a health concern with all the little crevices for bacteria to grow.

Sandra
Sandra

I like the materials in the Life Without Plastic toothbrush best and would love the chance to try them out. Beth, I'm curious to hear what other options you've found to this toothpaste dilemma. I am also sad to see Tom's of Maine make the change from metal to plastic tubes. I've been testing out a couple of different brands (Weleda's Salt Toothpaste, Boiron's Homeodent) that also come in metal tubes, but sadly none of them seem to clean my teeth as well as Tom's Multi-Care toothpaste. Here's a copy of the letter I sent to the company. I'm hoping others will take the time to write to them as well. Dear Tom’s of Maine: I am writing this letter to inform you that I will no longer purchase Tom’s of Maine Toothpastes because of your recent change in packaging from aluminum to laminate plastic tubes. I have been a loyal customer of your toothpaste for over fifteen years and was happy to support a company whose values, including social and environmental responsibility, coincided with mine. You state on your website that a major reason for the change was customer complaints related to the aluminum tubes cracking or leaking, as well as comments on the difficulty of squeezing all of the toothpaste out of the tube. Both of these concerns are easily remedied with an inexpensive and reusable metal tube wringer. I have been using one for years and have never encountered problems with leaking tubes (very likely due to rolling up the tube instead of using a tube wringer) or product waste (the wringer squeezes out every drop of toothpaste). You could market a Tom’s of Maine tube wringer and sell it alongside your toothpastes. More importantly, plastic, unlike metal, is not biodegradable. Even recyclable plastic has a finite number of times it can be recycled before it eventually reaches the landfill. You even admit the recycling options of the plastic tubes are currently limited. How does this hold up to your own Stewardship Model for sustainability? The energy savings of manufacturing and shipping a lighter plastic tube certainly do not offset the long term effects of millions of plastic tubes littering the environment. The time and money you are investing to develop recycling options for the laminate tubes could just as easily be used to increase awareness of the ability to recycle aluminum tubes (and there is already an aluminum recycling stream in place). Sadly, I will be looking to alternatives to your toothpaste. I thank you for the many years I had with your great, natural toothpaste. I hope you will consider reinstating the aluminum tubes. Thanks for taking the time to listen to your customers.

Michael M
Michael M

The Environmental Toothbrush is by far my favorite.. I was originally attracted to the Swissco, but realized it was purely it's good looks. I am a huge fan of bamboo.. frankly, I envy bamboo's tenacity and self-sustaining characteristics.. admirable for sure. I limit my intake of meat but do consume a bit. I am happy to see the bristles being put to use instead of being discarded. My shaving brush is pure boar hair. Would love to see a followup post on all natural toothpaste to go with the brushes (I am a fan of Tom's of Maine..)!

Rodosee
Rodosee

Hi, just writing in from India to note a couple of things about the neem stick 'brushes'. I've used them as a child, though they've steadily lost popularity even in rural populations in the last 3 or 4 decades. Nowadays the plastic toothbrush is far more common I regret. And there's a few reasons for that: (1) Neem is a bit of an acquired taste --- it's bitter. Not abominably, unbearably so; but distinctly. This is not as much of a problem for Indians (though many people even here really hate bitter things) as we do eat several bitter vegetables as delicacies or appetizers (to aid digestion --- neem leaves in stir-fries and astringent stews, among them). But for many Western populations, where bitter = toxic and bitter foods are simply not part of the regular cuisine, it might take rather more getting used to. (Steaming them will help reduce the astringency, BUT it also reduces the natural antiseptic and antibiotic properties of neem and softens the stick!) (2) It takes a lot of neem to provide entire populations with sticks --- this is a particular problem in India, where population density is so scarily high. Not so much an issue, perhaps, when it is a niche consumer base in First World countries and a local farm growing it for you, of course. (3) It takes time and patience --- it's certainly not as fast as pasting up a brush. It takes a good 20 minutes to work up a proper chew of stick! (4) For children, the taste was often masked by soaking the sticks in a licorice tea! Those with little ones could give that a shot. Also for really teeny tots not able to chew their own (though younger, tender shoots will be easier, they are more bitter), adults can help them along --- or if you find that unhygienic (despite the fact that it's not much worse than kissing, and the plant is helping you by beating up the bacteria too), you can pound it with a pestle or kitchen mallet to separate the fibres. Again, a bit more work than a toothbrush and paste, since you have to make a new 'brush' for every use, ie two per person daily at least. Hope this helps the braver, more determined among you to try it, though! Especially as you have the advantage of a regular supplier --- farmers selling it at market is rare here in India, these days; they were once stocked at traditional apothecaries' or just broken off a tree, but now those are options for a very very few in India.

greg
greg

Another great research piece you did Beth. I would go with the Environmental toothbrush. When I go to the Dentist he always gives out a plastic bag, with a plastic toothbrush, plastic hard case with floss. I refuse and explain why and they look at me like I am nuts. Any alternatives to floss and mouthwash in plastic bottles? Thanks again for another good post. g

Jessica
Jessica

Thank you so much for this! I had been trying to develop alternatives to plastic toothbrushes on my own before I found your articles. I'd love to try the neem sticks! I'm currently using a little bit of loofah with some home-made toothpaste. I know it's sounds pretty odd, but loofah gourds are edible when they are immature (known as "chinese okra") and they actually are pretty pleasant to chew on in their mature form. However, I don't think I could totally replace my toothbrush with it until I can get the little piece of loofa onto the end of a stick so I can reach all of the hard-to-get spots. If anything, I think I recommend loofa as a non-plastic alternative to chewing gum, if not quite a toothbrush...

Cath
Cath

I live in Australia so the recyclable Preserve and other US-based brushes aren't an option. I use the Environmental ones and am happy with them, except you need to make sure they're kept dry otherwise mould will develop.

Michelle McDaniel
Michelle McDaniel

I'd love to try the bamboo toothbrush. In regards to toothpaste, I think it a no-brainer . . . MAKE YOUR OWN . . . coconut oil and baking soda (per a quick Google), I found it stated on naturalnews.com that coconut oil is good for your gums as well. Mom always suggested baking soda if we ran out of toothpaste so I already knew that one but just had to see what our amazing Internet had to say. Good luck. Michelle

Lani
Lani

I used Preserve, but back when I bought a stash they came in plastic boxes & had no mailers. I had to ask TJ's for it & they couldn't find any. I put it in the recycling bin & hoped for the best. Their new packaging seems much better. However, the Environmental Toothbrush seems like a better choice. Partially because the cute panda appeals, mostly because it is biodegradable. (This would be my choice for the giveaway entry.) My #1 pick for daily use would be the Neem Tree stick. I hope I can grow a tree some day soon.

Kelly Stone
Kelly Stone

Just had to stop over to your blog after your tweet about using soap rather than a tube of toothpaste. Most interesting. More power to you with all of your noble endeavors! Great blog! - Kelly

yuki
yuki

I don't know if I'm too late for the giveaway but I could really use some eco-friendly toothbrushes because, contrary to many readers of yours, I use plain old disposable toothbrushes and I hate it. Personally, I think that the Life Without Plastic one is better because: 1. It's the only option 100% biodegradable. 2. I'm not vegetarian nor vegan. 3. I have some reserves about bamboo and while I understand that sustainably-harvested bamboo may exist, it's still not harvested in North America. I still don't like that these toothbrushes comes from so far. I really don't like to have to shop online for eco-friendly stuff because of all the fuel required to ship to my house. Generally, I still do it for reusable things that I will use plenty of years but I have reserves with toothbrushes because it is disposable after all. What I hate the most is companies that ship your stuff by airmail, I wouldn't mind waiting the extra days it takes to ship my things by truck or train or ship... Sorry for being way off-topic. I love your blog! Thanks for being there! Yuki yuki@michelf.com

Cameron
Cameron

Thank you for this article. My toothbrush is my weakest plastic link. My Fuchs toothbrush (pronounced like future) is such an eye sore to my bathroom cabinet. It is made in Germany with a recyclable plastic handle, a replaceable plastic head, and nylon bristles. They make a replaceable head with boar bristles, but I am a vegetarian and that kind of weirds me out. But I do own leather shoes and belts, so I guess we all draw our own lines. I have had the same handle for almost 12 years. But if I would have kept all the used plastic, replaceable heads, that I have used, I know I would have found another toothbrush by now, but I am still looking. I think that any of the three choices are better than my Fuchs and any other options currently available. There is no mention of price in the article or the comments. I believe most plastic-free folks prefer quality over quantity, but price is always a factor. The Environmental Toothbrush is $36 for a pack of 12, plus $12 for shipping ($4 a piece) if you are outside Australia. Life Without Plastic's Plastic-Free Wooden Toothbrush is $6.95 a piece or 6 for $37.53, plus $9 for shipping to the United States ($7.76 a piece). Preserve Toothbrushes are about $4. Hope I did my math right. Those are some pretty expensive toothbrushes, especially if you have a family who have teeth. Based on this and trying to limit the amount of plastic in my home, I would choose the Environmental Toothbrush, but for that price, they could make some improvements to limiting their use of plastic.

SusanK
SusanK

I am already using the Preserve toothbrush that I get at Trader Joe's but it comes in a plastic tube :-( I am most interested in using the Neem sticks though. These look like the best choice for reducing waste. I could just toss them in my yard waste bin!

Karli
Karli

I use the Miswak Neem sticks and I love them! My teeth have never been so clean! It does take a bit longer to brush, but it's worth it. Thanks for the site for them without plastic wrappers!

Ily
Ily

I've been using Preserve toothbrushes for a while now. They're nothing fancy, but my dentist told me to use a super-soft brush. And, the curved handle makes it easier to reach your back teeth. They're also not very expensive, but it would still be cool to get some free ones :)

Jamie in Tucson
Jamie in Tucson

Just found your blog from the npr.org article....SO MUCH info on here! Love it. I'm not vegetarian or plastic free or even a composter but I buy local meat raised humanely by our close friends, I carry reusable grocery bags everywhere and drink tap water, and we have installed as much drought tolerant greenery in our yard as possible. I'm always interested in ways to shop smarter and your plastic free guide has given me lots of ideas! I'm so intrigued by all the recycling methods available up there in Northern Cali - sure wish that would catch on all over the country. We still only recycle plastic 1s and 2s - which just kills me. So glad I happened upon your blog - I'm not a blog-reader either!

Dmarie
Dmarie

of these options, I best like:Preserve Recycled/Recyclable Toothbrush, because it is made in the USA and because it comes with a prepaid mailer. gotta love that!

Darla Gutierrez
Darla Gutierrez

I love the idea of the Life Without Plastic wooden toothbrush! If I were to go with an environmentally toothbrush, I would want to go completely plastic-free. You know that the plastic is going to lose its recyclability at some point in its life-cycle after you use it, and after that, it's off into the land fill (or the ocean, or the side of the road) forever. I'd be happy knowing that my toothbrush could be completely gone some day, rather than floating in the great Pacific garbage patch. The fact that the wood is grown sustainably, and the preservatives are vegetable oils rather than weird chemicals, makes it all the more appealing to me. I'm not a vegetarian (though I don't eat much meat at all, try to get local meat as often as I can, and NEVER eat beef) so the pig hair bristles wouldn't bother me. Also, I really appreciate the fact that the bristles come from animals grown for consumption. I hate the way that pigs are grown and "processed" in this country, but until we find a way to pull the plug on the big pork companies, finding a way to use all of the parts of the pigs gives them at least SOME dignity.

Josefine
Josefine

I'm not entirely sure whether there is a significant amount of European readers here, but perhaps this would interest everyone none the less: http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice/ipm/forms/dispatch?form=PLASTICBAGS . The EU is asking for the opinions of citizens, organisations, etc about the issues with plastic bags. If this goes exactly the way I want it to, we could be looking at a EU-wide plastic bag ban as well as better labelling regarding biodegradable plastics.

Magic and Mayhem
Magic and Mayhem

I would pick the Preserve recycled toothbrush. I don't like supporting businesses that use labor or goods from China because they treat every living thing (including their animals, workers and people) so badly, so the second one would be out for me. I try to avoid animal products and have the same reservations about the pig bristle one, especially since the pig hair is also imported from China. The sticks sound really intriguing though!

Lindsey Andersen
Lindsey Andersen

I would love to try the Environmental Toothbrush. I recently read the book Plastic A Toxic Love Story by Susan Freinkel, that where I ready about this website and had to check it out. The Life toothbrush interested me until it said pig hair, Im a vegetarian and I dont like the idea of pig hair in my mouth. The Environmental toothbrush sounds like a great alternative to plastic.

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

 @MarkDuncan Hi Mark.  I have actually been trying to get info on that from Worldcentric.

Salamandra Nat
Salamandra Nat

@Kitten  

If i'm not mistaken, Tom's is owned by Kellogs. This is probably the reason why they were "pushed" to use "usual" (read - plastic, plastic and more plastic) tubes for their toothpaste. I don't use most of Tom's products.

Salamandra Nat
Salamandra Nat

@Annie  

I knew the guy, who had never brushed his teeth! He has been rinsing his mouth with water on the regular basis all his life. 

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Jamie, glad to meet you! Just remember, while you might not be able to recycle many different kinds of plastic, reducing our use of disposable plastics in the first place is a much better solution. Out here, our plastic recycling gets shipped to China, where it often is "recycled" in environmentally damaging ways. So don't think we have it so much better here. Just do what you can in your neck of the woods. I'm glad the plastic-free guide helps!

Trackbacks

  1. Eco-Friendly Toothbrush Review says:

    [...] Source: My plastic free life. [...]

  2. [...] used Beth Terry’s post about toothbrushes to guide me. She talks about three different options: one from Life Without Plastic, one from [...]

  3. [...] seemed  counterproductive to use a plastic toothbrush. While researching, I found this article: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2011/05/eco-friendly-toothbrush-review-and-giveaway/. I’m really considering trying the Environmental Toothbrush! It seems like a good alternative [...]

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