What are bamboo toothbrush bristles made from?
If you are on a mission to rid your home of unnecessary plastic waste then switching your regular plastic toothbrush to an eco friendly toothbrush is a great place to start.
Your bathroom is a great place to start if you want to reduce your plastic waste. All those bottles of soap, shampoo and shower gel can easily be replaced by more eco-friendly bathroom alternatives and so can your toothbrush.
Bamboo grows quickly without the need for chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Plus it’s harvested without killing the plant reducing the risk of soil erosion that can come with commercial farming.
Bamboo is also fully compostable meaning it can go in your garden compost, commercial compost or simply be buried in the ground.
But what about the bristles?
What are toothbrush bristles made of?
Most toothbrush bristles are made of Nylon. Nylon is a synthetic fibre that is strong and flexible making it ideal for keeping your teeth clean and your gums healthy.
Nylon is a relatively modern material that wasn’t invented until the 1930s and before that, the most common material for toothbrush bristles was pig hair.
Most toothbrush bristles are made from nylon 6 which is expensive to recycle and therefore will generally end up in the landfill.
However when you look at the overall size of your toothbrush the bristles are only a tiny part and if you can save the rest of it from the bin then you’ll be creating significantly less plastic waste then you were before.
Plus many bamboo toothbrush manufacturers are making bristles from a mixture of nylon and other materials including charcoal and bamboo meaning the amount of petroleum used is even less.
While you can still get toothbrushes made with pig hair today which are 100% biodegradable they are not the most popular choice for a number of reasons. Firstly they are obviously not vegan or vegetarian-friendly, secondly, the bristles can be firmer than nylon which can damage gums and enamel, and thirdly the hairs are hollow which can increase the risk of bacteria.
Finally it is now possible to buy toothbrushes that are completely petroleum-free. Hydrophil has developed a bristle made from 100% renewable raw materials utilizing castor oil instead of mineral oil.
While these bristles still cannot be composted under household conditions and therefore need to be removed from your toothbrush before you pop it in the compost, they are at least not made from fossil fuels.
Does this mean bamboo toothbrushes are not eco-friendly?
While the inclusion of nylon means many bamboo toothbrushes are not 100% compostable they are still far better for the environment overall than a toothbrush made entirely from plastic.
The manufacturing process is also a lot gentler on the planet as bamboo grows without the need for human intervention. And the process of turning the bamboo into a toothbrush handle requires a lot less energy and machinery than producing a plastic handle.