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Plastic vs. Bamboo Toothbrush: What’s the Difference?

The toothbrush is one of those essential items we can’t imagine being without in our daily lives. It keeps our teeth clean and keeps bad breath at bay. Toothbrushes are such common items that we rarely think twice before purchasing them. Even though they seem harmless, they’re responsible for millions of tonnes of waste in landfills every year. The average person uses a single toothbrush for approximately three months before changing it for a new one. If you do the math, you will realize just how much waste and damage to the environment they cause. Most people commonly use a plastic toothbrush, however, by switching to a biodegradable or bamboo natural toothbrush, you can reduce your environmental impact and inspire others to do the same.

The First Toothbrush

Ever since discovering the importance of oral health and the dangers that come with neglecting it, humans have had some sort of a ‘toothbrush’. The author Pliny the Elder from ancient Rome noted that he used a porcupine quill to clean his teeth, while certain Asians cleaned their teeth by chewing sticks. The first toothbrushes date back to the early 1400s. Their handles were made from a piece of wood, while the bristles were made from pig hair. Until the 20th century arrived, not many people owned a toothbrush of this kind. However, as time went by manufacturers started making them out of plastic, which made them rise in popularity.


What Are the Benefits of Bamboo?

Bamboo products are rapidly rising in popularity because of their practicality. This material is common in the manufacturing of various products, ranging from medicine, bedsheets, clothing, utensils, etc. Here are some of the reasons why bamboo is such a popular material:

  • Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants, being able to mature in 3-5 years;
  • It grows in both tropical and temperate environments;
  • It cleanses the air from toxins and CO2, and it produces significantly more oxygen than trees;
  • It doesn’t require the use of pesticides or chemical fertilisers and needs minimal watering;
  • It doesn’t need replanting;
  • Its production process into fibre has a lower impact on the environment than other types of materials, especially synthetic ones.

Bamboo Toothbrushes

Today, we have a variety of toothbrush options. The most popular choice is the eco-friendly natural bamboo toothbrush. This type is just as effective as plastic and electric ones, with the added benefits of being biodegradable and anti-microbial.


Bamboo toothbrushes don’t contribute to climate change, unlike other toothbrush materials. They are made from a biodegradable bamboo handle and recyclable bristles. This means that, after exchanging it for a new one, you can simply snap off the handle to use it for composting and throw the head of the toothbrush away for recycling. This is why these natural toothbrushes have become not only the most popular choice in Australia but around the world as well.

Another advantage of bamboo toothbrushes is their anti-microbial property. Bamboo has a much different construction than plastic, which makes it a more hygienic option for kitchen utensils, but also for toothbrushes. While plastic items are more prone to retain bacteria, bamboo kills the bacteria that penetrate its surface. This is why people often turn to bamboo for their cutting boards and kitchen utensils, or alternatively, they use wooden utensils, which have similar properties.

How Eco-Friendly Are Bamboo Toothbrushes?

It’s important to mention that, as with any product, not all bamboo toothbrushes are equally eco-friendly. When it comes to the bamboo handle – this part makes great compost, as many households use bamboo as an alternative to mulch for their plants. However, the bristles often pose a problem. Almost every toothbrush that you can find on today’s market has bristles made of nylon. If they contain 100% nylon, these bristles can’t be recycled. If you’re concerned about the sustainability of your bamboo toothbrush, make sure to carefully read the label and look for one that doesn’t have 100% nylon bristles. Modern manufacturers often mix different materials to make the bristles more sustainable. One example is mixing nylon with castor bean oil. This gives your product recyclable bristles and better sustainability.


Plastic Toothbrushes

Unlike a natural bamboo toothbrush, plastic toothbrushes pose a big threat to the environment. They’re produced from polypropylene plastic and nylon, which come from fossil fuels. After you throw them away, these items end up in waterways, oceans and landfills. They later pose harm to various forms of wildlife and release harmful chemicals into the earth. While natural alternatives like bamboo toothbrushes take around six months to compost, plastic toothbrushes take hundreds of years to break down, after which they continue polluting the earth. Similar to plastic bags, they’re found endangering the life of sea creatures. They can slice their stomachs and digestive organs, often getting lodged in their bodies. This can often cause them to suffocate.

Bottom Line

The average person disposes of around 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime. If you want to do what’s best for the environment, try out one of the bamboo natural toothbrushes. These not only significantly reduce the environmental impact that your family makes but are also much more beneficial for your oral health.