The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
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

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.

Leave a Reply

176 Comments on "Eco-Friendly Toothbrush Review"


Guest
26 days 10 hours ago

Hello – I know the latest update here was in 2013 – just wondering if the Brush with Bamboo toothbrush is still the favorite? We are looking to add some eco-friendly – really good toothbrushes to our online store…

Guest
mystickitten
2 months 4 days ago

Any thoughts on WooBamboo

Guest
4 months 18 days ago

Thank you for your research! Eco friendly and plastic free teeth cleaning products seem to be hard find. I appreciate your hard work.

Guest
Obiora Embry
5 months 20 days ago

I have used in the past baking soda (like a decade or more ago) and last year i used just coconut oil during the warmer months. I have been using Miswak sticks for a couple of months now and really like them.
In the near future I am thinking about making some homemade toothpaste (I have already started making homemade mouthwash) using a recipe that I got from http://www.thankyourbody.com/all-natural-homemade-toothpaste/ to make a coconut oil based toothpaste that I will use at night while I brush in the morning with my miswak stick.  I will use Raw Coconut oil and Distilled water rather than filtered water.

The recipe is below:
Homemade Toothpaste
Ingredients:
4 Tbs Coconut Oil
4 Tbs Bentonite Clay
2 – 3 Tbs filtered water
1/2 tsp Real sea salt
10 – 15 drops peppermint essential oil http://www.thankyourbody.com/order-young-living-essential-oils/
(You can add a few drops of liquid stevia if you feel so inclined.)
Directions:
1. Mix coconut oil, clay, and salt in a small bowl. Start with just
one tablespoon of water. Working with the back of a spoon, “cream” the
ingredients together and add more water until you like the consistency.
(If you choose to add in a few drops of liquid stevia, this is the step
to do it).
2. Add in the peppermint oil (or cinnamon or spearmint) and then mix until well combined. Store in air tight container.
To use: Place a pea-size amount on your toothbrush and the brush. Not
too hard. Not too long. Just enough to make your mouth happy. Rinse.
(Although it’s safe to consume in case your kiddies don’t rinse very
well.)

Guest
jgcalifornia
10 months 12 days ago

Does anyone know any resources for plastic free electric toothbrushes?
I cant avoid my dentist any longer.
Thanks!

Guest
VishalChandel
1 year 1 month ago

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.

Guest
Pravin
1 year 3 months ago

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!

Guest
1 year 7 months ago

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).

Guest
ElizabethPortant
1 year 10 months ago

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

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.

Guest

[…] 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 […]

Guest
MerleeSherman
2 years 2 months ago

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.

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.”
!tab1

Guest
MerleeSherman
2 years 2 months ago

Plastic-Free Ericka ModeratorMerleeSherman 
Have you considered ordering larger quantities from them? Next time I
re-fill I will ask what sizing options they have – that way you’re
dealing with less containers.

Guest
2 years 3 months ago

Environmental toothbrush now has “ecotoothbrush”, there next generation version with charcoal enhanced bristles. They still seem to be distributing from Australia for USA clients, so high shipping prices.

Worldcentric’s says thair bristles aren’t biodegradable.

I ordered both to see which one I like. I’ll try to remember to post back here with any reviews.

Guest
MarkDuncan
2 years 5 months ago

Beth, here’s one I came across. Any feedback from anyone?http://worldcentric.org/biocompostables/toothbrushes

Guest
BethTerry
2 years 5 months ago

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

Guest
Magnus SE
2 years 5 months ago

Very interesting discussion and valuable information! Well done!
Magnus SE

Guest
Kitten
2 years 7 months ago

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.

Guest
Salamandra Nat
1 year 2 months ago

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

Guest
2 years 10 months ago

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

Guest
Holly
2 years 11 months ago

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

Guest
Annie
3 years 21 hours ago

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.

Guest
Salamandra Nat
1 year 2 months ago

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.

Guest
DanielColman
3 years 5 days ago

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!

Guest
BethTerry
3 years 5 days ago

 @DanielColman That’s great to know!  Maybe I’ll place another order.

Guest
AnnaDaugherty
3 years 1 month ago

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. 

Guest

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

Guest
kanishka
3 years 7 months ago

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.

Guest
Ms. Adventuress
3 years 10 months ago

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!

Guest
4 years 7 days ago

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

Guest
4 years 7 days ago

Hi Beth, you can make toothpaste from baking soda, xylitol and a tiny bit of water and/or coconut oil. See my experiment here: http://jemsroom.blogspot.com/2011/06/diy-furniture-polish-soap-and.html

Guest
Sandra
4 years 16 days ago

#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.

Guest
4 years 18 days ago

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.

Guest
4 years 26 days ago

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!

Guest
Sandra
4 years 29 days ago

@ 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;)

Guest
yuki
4 years 29 days ago

@ 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.

Guest
Dayna De Hoyos
4 years 29 days ago

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.

Guest
Sandra
4 years 1 month ago

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.

Guest
Eco-Friendly Toothbrush Review
4 years 1 month ago

[…] Source: My plastic free life. […]

Guest
Michael M
4 years 1 month ago

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..)!

Guest
Rodosee
4 years 1 month ago

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.

Guest
greg
4 years 1 month ago

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

Guest
4 years 1 month ago

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…

Guest
Cath
4 years 1 month ago

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.

Guest
Michelle McDaniel
4 years 1 month ago

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

Guest
4 years 1 month ago

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.

Guest
4 years 1 month ago

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

Guest
yuki
4 years 1 month ago

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

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Cameron
4 years 1 month ago

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.

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SusanK
4 years 1 month ago

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!

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Karli
4 years 1 month ago

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!

Guest
4 years 1 month ago

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 :)

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Jamie in Tucson
4 years 1 month ago

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!

Guest
4 years 1 month ago

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!

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Darla Gutierrez
4 years 1 month ago

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.

Guest
4 years 1 month ago

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.

Guest
4 years 1 month ago

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!

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Lindsey Andersen
4 years 1 month ago

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.

Guest
4 years 1 month ago

What a fascinating mix of comments! Thanks Beth for putting this out there.

As there have been a number of comments about the pig bristles on the LWP toothbrush and the China link, I thought it might be of interest to provide some more detail on that issue.

The bristles from our toothbrushes come from a domesticated race of pigs in China. According to our supplier, all of the world’s pig bristles are currently sourced from China. The German company that makes the toothbrushes for us purchases the bristles from another German company that imports them, and neither of them have any knowledge of, or influence over, how the pigs are treated when they are alive. Yes, as many have noted, the Chinese record on the treatment of animals is not good and this is a serious concern we grappled with. These pigs are bred and raised for their meat. After they are killed for their meat, the bristles are removed from the animal skin, bleached with hydrogen peroxide (which is a natural bleach/disinfectant), washed well with water, and then boiled to ensure sterilization. The pig skin is considered a waste product by the meat industry, and if the bristles were not collected by the supplier, they would simply be thrown away as waste because there is no use for the skin and bristles in the meat industry. And this is why we decided to go ahead with these brushes, because the pig hair will simply be thrown out if it is not used for some other purpose. The pigs are not killed for their hair, so the use of the hair is not creating a demand resulting in killing more pigs. So far, this is the best completely non-plastic toothbrush we have been able to find.

We have discussed with our supplier the possibility of a toothbrush with a wooden handle and plant-based bristles. It turns out they used to produce toothbrushes with natural plant-based bristles, but these brushes did not work very well or last very long, so there were a lot of complaints from customers. The plant bristles were made of fibre from the agave palm tree (Agave lechuguilla), and sourced from Mexico. We were told that this fibre was the most suitable plant-based fibre they could find, but even it was not appropriate.

So the search continues for the perfect plastic-free toothbrush. Eventually it will emerge. As I mentioned to Beth, I find the neem possibility intriguing. My father grew up in India, and as a child he would simply chew on a neem twig after eating to clean his teeth. His teeth are amazing after 81 years (though some of that is likely due to genetics and diligent cleaning immediately after eating).

There were also some questions about how this brush works, and Beth hasn’t used this brush so she wasn’t able to say. We use them ourselves, and I’m a little embarrassed to say I’ve been using my current one for almost six months. The handle is perfectly fine after this time, and the bristles, while certainly a bit softer when moist, are still perfectly functional and brush the teeth well. That said, it is time for me to change my brush. It is best to air dry the brush completely between uses, and we do so by placing them upright in a cup on the counter.

As final note, I love the comment by Val about using old brushes as plant labels. And if you can’t get the bristles off, they can be plant labels with personality – read hair!

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MerleeSherman
2 years 2 months ago

Check out this 100% bamboo toothbrush 

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Jerami
4 years 1 month ago

It’s hard to choose between the Environmental and the Life Without Plastics toothbrushes, but I think I would have to go with the Environmental toothbrush. I’ve seen several reviews for the Environmental toothbrush and have heard great things. I also like that they use bamboo which is an amazingly renewable resource. I wish I could try both! Haha.

Guest
4 years 1 month ago

I love <3 the plastic free wooden toothbrush with pigs hair. I think it is the best option.

Guest
4 years 1 month ago

I love the bamboo one. Definitely replacing my OralB with one of those next toothbrush cycle! Thanks for the interesting write up. I did not even know these products were available.

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Kathleen Sullivan
4 years 1 month ago

Although I prefer the idea of the wooden brushes, since you say they’re harder I’m interested in the Preserve toothbrush. Unfortunately, I have sensitive teeth.

Guest
4 years 1 month ago

I had never even thought about toothbrushes!

I also didn’t know that Whoel Foods took plastics for recycling. This is good information to have!

I would love to try out the Preserve.

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MJ
4 years 1 month ago

I’d love to try the Environmental Toothbrush! I’ve tried the Preserve before (when I can find them at Target!) and while I do believe you should use all parts of the animal, I don’t really want them in my mouth!

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Jennifer
4 years 1 month ago

FYI, if you find yourself in Brooklyn near Atlantic Ave (around Atlantic & Smith I think…) there is an area with lots of Arab shops and you can get bulk Miswak for about a buck each, or at least you could a few years ago. No packaging, and they make your teeth and gums clean and happy.

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Pam
4 years 1 month ago

I would like to try the pig hair toothbrush, just because it sounds so unusual.

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Zoe Kyklos
4 years 1 month ago

Aside from the awesome neem sticks, I think the bamboo toothbrush is best because it utilizes a fast-growing, quickly renewable source. Bamboo is getting invasive around where I live–it’s growing up around all of the parking lots, into neighboring gardens–all over the place! Biodegradable is a plus, too.

Next up, the pig hair toothbrush. Pig hair sounds a little bit gross, but I definitely agree with using all of an animal (since it is going to be killed anyway) rather than just part. Goes along with the low-waste practices of indigenous people.

The preserve toothbrush is a good concept, and commendable. At least the plastic is reused, even if nothing is done to stop the making of the plastic in the first place. Stopping the production of plastic at this point would be an extremely difficult process–nothing is going to happen overnight, that is for certain.

Guest
4 years 1 month ago

Hello everyone,
Yes there are cheaper versions of our toothbrush out there (Copycats – if you like) but they use a cheaper form of standard Nylon for the bristles, anything to save a Dollar.

If you are located in Australia you can purchase a single toothbrush from many Green / Eco Stores or online at http://www.gogreenathome.com.au.

YES we ship our boxes of toothbrushes out in Paper wrapping.

Our handles are made from MOSO bamboo one of the fastest growing bamboos in the world and a type that the PANDA’S do not eat, Bamboo is party of the GRASS family and not a Tree.

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D.C.
4 years 1 month ago

I’ve been using the preserve toothbrush but would like to try the environmental toothbrush.
Someone mentioned Weleda toothpaste, and I found that they do use aluminum tubes, but the inside of the tubes are coated with “phenol-epoxy-varnish.” I wonder if that’s plastic, and I also wonder if Tom’s had been doing the same.

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Lee
4 years 1 month ago

I would try the life without plastic brush if it weren’t made from pig, as I stay kosher. So, the environmental toothbrush sounds like the best one for me. Although it does have plastic in the packaging, I like that they use a cardboard box, and I love bamboo.

Guest
4 years 1 month ago

I have never tried a Preserve Toothbrush, but I believe that is the best option up there. Thanks for having this giveaway. =)

Guest
4 years 1 month ago

Well, as a vegetarian, I also would rule out the third option. I’m undecided on the first two — happy to try either (and either would be an improvement over my “plastic, packaged in plastic, get it free each year from the dentist” toothbrushing regime. I guess if I had to choose I’d pick the recycled plastic one, because I care about the importance of take-back programs. But I don’t have strong feelings on which is “better” and hope to try both to see how they work with my toothbrushing preferences.

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kelly viss
4 years 1 month ago

I like the life without plastic one best. Being that I am a meat eater (But a very picky one, I mostly raise my own.) I like to see every part of the animal going to use. It is hard for me to validate the death of an animal if I am not going to use every part of it. Thanks so much for publishing this blog and doing all these reviews. Your time and effort makes my life that much easier :) You inspire me! I have heard of, and desired, the neem sticks before, but you have given me a recourse to get them. The price is a bit steep for me right now, but now that I have a recourse and a dollar amount I can make it happen! (I currently use basic plastic toothbrushes :( Sad, but I can get them for free. I re-use them for cleaning, etc. ) My future goal is to plant a neem tree and give away as many sticks as I can!

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babysteps
4 years 1 month ago

Toothpaste, a little over a year ago I was looking into make-at-home toothpolish/powder/whatever and ran up against the “baking soda will strip your enamel” theory. When I asked my dental hygienist, she said what #79 @Jane’s dentist did – it’s not the toothpaste, it’s the brushing. (She also had a funny story about a 90yo+ woman in a nursing home with the whitest teeth ever, apparently she brushed with Ajax which scandalized the hygienist and should be highly toxic but worked for this woman!)

I’ve been using water ever since, and have had 2 dentist appointments since, and all is well!
I do use floss 1x/day.
My skin & mouth are quite sensitive to any non-food ingredients, so water works really well for me (fair warning, I have long hair and have gone to rinse-only/no-product hair cleaning, which works fine for me but might suggest I’m into the deep end for some folks).
And you know how your teeth feel slimy-squeaky-clean after a trip to the dentist? Now my teeth feel almost like that all the time! Practical hint: for me, dipping my toothbrush into a glass with a little water works better (and uses less water) than holding the toothbrush in the stream of water from a running faucet.

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gayle sum
4 years 1 month ago

I like the Environmental Toothbrush idea. I hate waste. I think it’s great to use as many parts of animals as possible if the animal and like the idea of packaging without plastic.

The best idea though seems to be the Neem Sticks fi they work. I love that you could potentially grow your own toothbrushes!!

Guest
4 years 1 month ago

I would love to try the Preserve toothbrushes, as i recently noticed the recycling bin at Whole Foods, which was very cool. It would be a improvement for me, as I currently use the toothbrushes given me by my dentist.

On the Miswak– my day job is on an Oral Health research study, where many of our participants use the stick brush, or miswak. It’s been found to actually be better than a toothbrush in some cases, because it has some antiseptic properties and does- to a limited extent- also get between your teeth. That said, it’s also good because many people are brushing 5 times a day, or keeping it in their mouth for extended periods. So that might be important.

Guest
Bianca
4 years 1 month ago

I was looking for a plastic free toothbrush for a while now – knowing that the Environmental Toothbrush is designed in Australia is good to know. I wanted to buy one to try it – however they only come in boxes of 12. I hope that governments and policy makers become more aware of the dangers of plastic and begin to change the regulation and restrictions to allow different kinds of packaging.

I am very much looking forward to trying a toothbrush that doesn’t make plastic come near my mouth! I really think all three toothbrushes have their positives and negatives however like you, I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting pig hair in my mouth. I feel bad enough seldom eating any kind of meat and as another reader suggested, the chemicals to treat the pig hair may be just as bad as plastic (I don’t use chemicals in my house since my grandmother got breast cancer). I think the environmental toothbrush is a good place for me to start as I can get it easily as I live in Australia – hopefully it is shipped in recyclable packaging!

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Rachel
4 years 1 month ago

I currently use preserve, but would love to try the environmental toothbrush!!

Also, I recently discovered this alternative to toothpaste from an etsy seller. I really like it a lot. It’s packaged in a small glass container and metal? lid. It does come with a tiny plastic scoop, but I know she’d be happy to not include it if you ask. She ships in cute biodegradable packaging.

It’s a tooth powder. I was skeptical at first, but now I’m a convert :)

http://www.etsy.com/listing/68364200/herbal-tooth-powder-small

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Brianna
4 years 1 month ago

I’ve actually been looking for a new toothbrush option since I started reading your blog. The best one I found wasn’t on your list though, it’s the Izola 803 Reflections Toothbrush (found on Amazon). It has a bamboo handle and regular nylon bristles.

Sounds just like the Australian Environmental Toothbrush, except for the difference in nylon types. I’m personally wary of a biodegradable plastic, I worry that I’ll be brushing the plastic onto my teeth because it’s so apt to break down. Also, even though it breaks down that doesn’t mean that I want those plastic elements in my compost (really my mom’s cause I live in an apt.) or eventually in the foods I’ll grow in the compost.

I also looked at boar bristle, but there were multiple warnings on all the sites to keep the brushes dry when not in use, which makes me worry about cleanliness. I already fight mold everywhere else in my apartment, I’d hate to have to worry about my toothbrush going bad.

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Carla
4 years 1 month ago

I would vote for the pig-hair brushes from Life without plastic. I’m ok with using the whole animal and this seems like something people would have used before plastic. incidentally, we are local to LWP so if I won, could save on shipping!

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Peta
4 years 1 month ago

Good point Lara, the Environmental Toothbrush suggests you change your toothbrush every month. They said they experimented with it and it will last up to 8 months or something but that they don’t recommend that. I am in my second month of using mine and the bristles still seem fine to me and the bamboo handle is still as good as new…

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Lara S.
4 years 1 month ago

Very interesting post!

I think there’s a valuable piece of information missing from this post: the life span of the products. Are boar bristles as durable as nylon bristles? Maybe they wear off quicker, so you’d have to buy toothbrushes more frecuently… or viceversa. According to dentists (with whom I don’t agree) you should replace your toothbrush every 3 months. Is it sustainable to buy a wooden toothbrush every 3 months? Regardless of the species of trees, let’s remember they need years to grow.
If you haven’t tried the products long enough to see the life span for yourself, you could ask the company for this information, though you’d only know if it’s true after you tried it.

In Argentina, I use a toothbrush with a handle made from recycled pre-consumer plastic. That’s the best we get here, but it’s better than nothing.

Personally I would like a durable wooden handle (from sustainable woods) with replaceable, recyclable tiny plastic heads, that came in a packaging that could be used as a mailer to be recycled by the company (I think that idea is brilliant). I’m a vegetarian so no pig hairs for me.

Thanks for making us pay attention to the ordinary things in our lives, it is a great way to make us see the real value they have.

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Krista
4 years 1 month ago

As far as toothpaste goes, I recently came across alternatives: http://www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2011/05/12-natural-toothpaste-alternatives.html
Another blogger clean her teeth with activated charcoal http://notdabblinginnormal.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/a-few-of-my-favorite-real-clean-things/

Guest
4 years 1 month ago

I just thought i would let everyone know that we are trying to find an agency in the USA to try and reduce the amount of travel our toothbrushes have to do, which means they will be shipped direct to the USA. Also we have agencies in the UK, Canada & South Africa where our toothbrushes are shipped direct.

Love the write up and the comparison, we also looked at the boars hair option for our toothbrushes but decided against it.

Keep up the good work Beth..
All the best from down under

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Sonia
4 years 1 month ago

I am not a vegetarian so I think life without plastic’s plastic-free toothbrush would be my choice. The thought of putting pig hair in my mouth is a bit weird, but I’m sure I could get over that especially since it has not plastic. :) Would be nice if it was made locally though.

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Ashley
4 years 1 month ago

Since it is made in America I like the Preserve. Where are they sold?

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Jane
4 years 1 month ago

I like the life without plastic brush.

When it comes to toothpaste, I used to have a dentist who said you could brush your teeth with chicken soup – what matters is that you brush them. About half the time I just moisten my toothbrush and brush with water, rinsing well. I don’t notice any difference.

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sunnysandiegan
4 years 1 month ago

We use the TerraDent toothbrushes with replaceable heads (DH, DD, and I). I have used the Preserve toothbrush in the past, but the head is too large for me to clean my back teeth well. Cradle to grave product life cycle is important to me. So are function and cost. I can buy the TerraDent locally (just one handle each; replacement heads whenever we need them) and replacing the heads is the best option at the moment for me.

I’d love to try the plastic-free wood & pig’s hair toothbrush. I like the idea of using more of the animal. I’m not crazy about all the traveling those toothbrush components do, however. We compost directly in the yard, so I’ll just bury it when it has lived it’s useful life as a toothbrush.

There is no perfect answer, but your write-up is a nice illustration of the dilemma and perhaps will foster some new products.

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Martha
4 years 1 month ago

OK, I’m a vegetarian and I’m not putting pig hair in my mouth. Period. Number 2 (Environmental Toothbrush) looks good, but I prefer to stay local and cut China out of the loop. So I vote for the Preserve. It’s encouraging to see a company (an American one no less!) trying so hard to do the right thing, even though it’s not yet perfect. If I don’t win one, where can I buy it?

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Mel
4 years 1 month ago

We use Life Without Plastic’s Plastic-free Wooden Toothbrush. As vegetarians, it’s not perfect, but it is the least plastic and we can throw them in the compost when we are done. Plus they come in kids sizes. My boys are 2.5 and 4, so adult toothbrushes are just too big for their little mouths. Can’t wait to see what they come up with as a veggie/vegan option.

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Theresa
4 years 1 month ago

Although the Neem idea is intriguing, it poses some serious potential use issues with my little ones, I’ll have to get back to you on that part. So as far as toothbrushes go, LWP plastic free wooden toothbrush is the ONLY option as far as I’m concerned. I will gladly take on the risk of a little plastic toxin rubbing off onto the toothbrush during shipping versus the endless supply of toxins coming directly out of the brush or bristles of nylon or polypropylene (into mine, or my childs mouth, no thanks!). Minimal packaging is better than recycling, because it doesn’t rely on lazy consumers or uncooperative recycling centers. By the way, I do believe they will find a vegetarian method in the near future. Recycle-ability is unfortunately not a viable reason to poison ourselves with MORE plastic. The bottom line is that those WILL eventually go to a landfill. People who WANT to recycle, will find ways to recycle, regardless of the little triangle or fancy packaging gimmicks. True recyclers are typically very creative. The choice should not have to be a decision between whats best for my health OR the earth.

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Melody
4 years 1 month ago

I am also using the TerraDent toothbrush with replaceable heads. At least it’s less plastic and I can buy them at local stores. We’re still experimenting with options. I do not like the curved handle on preserve though my daughter did. Would love to have one of the wooden or bamboo ones for a family member to try. We are not vegetarian. We are experimenting to find out what works for each person and reduces our plastic use.

Guest
4 years 1 month ago

i just started using the preserve toothbrush, and honestly it’s not floating my boat so much. i think you accurately assessed the drawbacks of its role in reducing a small amount of plastic use, but does not really get away from plastic at all. i’d love to try the life-without-plastic pig hair brush, of the three you’re giving away. i am also very intrigued by the neem sticks and will look forward to hearing your experience on it! i might just have to grow my own neem tree if they rock. as for toothpaste, i just began thinking about this. i have read about “tooth powder” and seen some things of that nature available on etsy. i’m not sure how they are packaged, but it also seems likely it would be something one could make relatively easily (in one’s own glass mason jar, or whatever). i haven’t researched it much, and again will look forward to what you find out!

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Nicole
4 years 1 month ago

Too bad there isn’t an option similar to the life without plastics that is made a little closer to home. China and Germany…yikes. Isn’t a major part of reducing plastic consumption due to how plastics are made (i.e. from petroleum)?? How is it beneficial to then use lots of petroleum to get the parts to Germany and then lots more to get the final product to the US? I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately on reducing plastic consumption but they’re all buying replacements online and overseas. I know it’s not intentionally hypocritical but we are definitely missing the big picture here.

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Paul
4 years 1 month ago

Life Without Plastic’s wooden toothbrush looks perfect, and I can easily see local manufacturers creating their own designs from locally available woods and bristle materials (with all respect to existing patents, of course!).

The idea of being able to pop down to my local farmers market to pick up a locally- and sustainably-made, all-natural toothbrush is exactly where we need to be headed. Heck, we can get food, clothing, jewelry, cleaning and hygiene products (even handmade feminine hygiene products)…why not toothbrushes?

Pretty please with a cherry on top send me the Life Without Plastic toothbrushes, and set my “Buy Local or Bye-Bye Local” heart to swooning.

Guest
peaJayFish
4 years 1 month ago

Since I like the natural bristles of my Fuchs, but hate the plastic handle (and the plastic case it came in!), I would very much like to try the Life Without Plastic wooden boar’s hair brush. I really appreciate their effort to have the least possible amount of packaging; covering only the part that goes in your mouth is brilliant, and I respect that LWP actually visited the family in Germany that makes the brushes and were impressed by them. Wow. How many sellers go to those lengths to ensure what they are selling meets the standards of their values?
I thank those who posted concerning the treatment of animals in China. That is disconcerting. What is worse is their record for treatment of people. LWP states that China is the only place to source this boar’s hair. I wouldn’t mind trying to find out if Havelinas have suitable hair for these brushes, then they could be made in the US. Just a thought.
I am still trying to get my hands on some bentonite clay to make my own tooth powder. I’ll report on it as soon as I do. My tube of (I can’t even tell you what evil toothpaste still lurks in my bathrrom drawer!) is not long for this world, so I hope it comes soon.
(My name is Pamela Jeanne, and my husband calls me Fish. Just felt the need to explain my username, I guess, so there you go).

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Becky
4 years 1 month ago

I would love to try the Preserve toothbrush. We don’t have commercial composting around here, so the recyclable toothbrush seems like the best option for me.

Guest
jessica mason
4 years 1 month ago

My vote is for the Life Without Plastic toothbrush using pig hair – interesting. would love to try ‘er out! :)

Guest
Holly
4 years 1 month ago

I currently use the Preserve brand of toothbrush and collect #5 yogurt cups to send to their Gimme5 program, but, of course, this is not the best use of resources. The toothbrush and yogurt cups are made of plastic, shipping cost is expensive, shipping requires fuel, etc., and I have to remember to go to the post office, but, realistically, it’s okay for this stage in my life (I am too lazy to make my own yogurt!). As I’m not a vegetarian, the Life Without Plastic’s Plastic-free Wooden Toothbrush would be really neat to try. I’m not squeamish, I like meat (free-range, of course!), and I like the idea of using all parts of the animal. Thanks for another great informative article, and let us know how those stick things work out!

Guest
Katherine
4 years 1 month ago

I am not vegetarian & I really do like the idea of using what you can of the hog to not waste, so I would say that my toothbrush of choice would be for the completely plastic free one, wooden with bristles

I’m super interested in those sticks, too, though! I can’t wait for your review of them

Guest
Val
4 years 1 month ago

The neem looks promising, though quite expensive ($25 for what they call a 3 month supply), plus it looks expensive and complicated to get it across the border to Canada.

I’d love to try the environmental toothbrush. I’m also vegetarian and creeped out by the boar bristles. At a glance, this looks like the bristles could be removed and it could be reused as a plant label in the garden at the end of its life.