My unofficial new year's resolution was to work towards zero waste, and part of that is being more conscious about my buying decisions. Some changes are easier than others. My first easy change was to switch to a bamboo toothbrush. The old toothbrush was about dead and I was excited to switch out to something more eco-friendly.
Buying a bamboo toothbrush sounded simple, but before long I fell into a research rabbit hole. While the handle was bamboo, picking what material you wanted for the bristles was a whole different story.
Most brushes have nylon or animal hair bristles.
Nylon does NOT compost. Although nylon seemed to be the cheapest option, (and still significantly better than 100% plastic toothbrushes) I wanted to do better. I read reviews of people either pulling the bristles out with pliers or breaking off the head and throwing the top away so that most of the product could be composted. It sounded like more of a hassle than I wanted to deal with. I continued my journey for a better alternative.
Some options exist that have bristles made from different types of animal products. While this does make the product 100% compostable, I was a little grossed out by brushing my teeth with animal hair and was hoping to find a vegan option.
Eventually I somehow stumbled upon Brush Naked. They offer two bristle options. One option is nylon while the other is plant-based. The website reads:
The 100% biodegradable, plant-based bristles are made from corn and tapioca and will last about a month. These are definitely stiffer than our nylon bristles.
This piqued my interest! Reading reviews though I was reading that people were burning the bristles and they were melting like plastic. What gives? Was this just a regular bamboo toothbrush with added cost?
I contacted the company for more information. The bristles are made of PLA. Although the bristles still have similar properties as plastic regarding melting, there are conditions in which this type of plastic will break down.
With this new information I went on to research PLA further. Just because something can break down doesn't mean it will, right? Overall my findings were that this toothbrush will definitely break down in a commercial composting facility. And PLA will potentially break down in your home compost pit if it gets hot enough, though it needs to be actively managed to do that. I'm going to test out my first toothbrush in my home composting pit. Depending on how my test toothbrush goes I will decide if my toothbrushes will go into the compost pit or pickup compost bin from here on out.
My toothbrush arrived and I was beyond excited. It came in what looked like plastic, but was actually 100% biodegradable/compostable cello made from wood and cotton pulp. You also have the option to order the product without a box and cut down on packaging. I was happy to see that even their packaging was taken into consideration!
Initially, I thought the bristles were much harder than my old plastic toothbrush. This caused me to start brushing without as much pressure as I was used to in the beginning, but I got used to it with time.
I travel often for work and leisure and after 2 weeks of owning this toothbrush had another discovery. Although the bristles were harder, they bent much easier from excessive travel. I ordered a bamboo travel case as soon as I realised the travel was causing my bristles to bend. This little step ended up being huge in extending the life of my toothbrush.
I read before buying that the toothbrush should last about a month before the bristles would start to show significant wear. I am happy to say that it has taken about 3 months of daily brushing to get to that point. Part of the success on extending my toothbrush I credit with buying the travel case. Also I just don't think I apply as much pressure as others might when brushing.
When I first ordered this product I was unsure if I would purchase it again, mainly due to the higher cost for a toothbrush and the expected life being only a month. Although I ended up falling for this toothbrush and being a huge supporter of it. I'm now ready to order the 12-pack to stock up and save on some shipping.
I found this product easy to purchase from Brush Naked's website with more limited product options available on Amazon.
Now it's time to test it out in the compost pit!