One of the first things many of us do in the morning is brush our teeth. It’s also one of the last things we do at the end of the day before going to sleep for the night. For this reason, choosing a sustainable toothbrush could send a reminder to practice sustainability throughout the day.
You may not think that a toothbrush could have such a great impact on the planet. However, everything we do, from the products we buy to the energy we use has multiple impacts on the planet.
A toothbrush is no different.
While there is very little research at the moment on the impact of a bamboo electric toothbrush, research does point to the idea that bamboo products are more sustainable than their plastic counterparts in almost all measurable sustainable metrics.
To evaluate the impact of something, we often use a Life Cycle Assessment, or an LCA. These assessments look at a range of impacts involved in the main stages of creating, using, and disposing of a product to figure out what its total impact is. They are incredibly helpful when comparing the various environmental impacts of a product.
For example, will a plastic electric toothbrush have a higher impact on freshwater resources than a bamboo electric toothbrush? What about carbon emissions and the generation of waste?
Not only do these studies suggest that a bamboo electric toothbrush is more sustainable than a plastic electric toothbrush, but they don’t account for one of the largest impacts of plastic, the impact of plastic waste in the environment.
Most, if not all, LCA’s stop at quantifying total waste created and the impact of disposing of that waste. They almost never attempt to account for waste in the environment because they always assume waste will go to a landfill, be composted, recycled, incinerated, reused, and so on.
This means we have very little understanding of the full range of plastic in the environment.
This is interesting because one of the biggest concerns everyday people have with plastic use is how plastic interacts with the environment. For example, how does plastic pollution impact marine life in the long run? Or, how will plastic impact our food supply in the long run?
We are already finding plastics everywhere from our food and water, to the most remote places on Earth, such as the poles and the bottom of the ocean. The scary part is we have only been making and using plastic on a wide scale for a few decades, but it will last in the environment for potentially millions of years, where it can continue to cause environmental harm again and again.
Until recently, nearly all toothbrushes were made of plastic handles with nylon bristles. Each year, billions of these toothbrushes are thrown away and sent to landfills because they cannot be disposed of in any other way. But not all waste sent to landfills stays in landfills.
This means there are likely extremely high numbers of toothbrushes polluting the environment, including electric toothbrushes.
Today, there are alternative types of toothbrushes that use less plastic. For example, the sustainable tomorrow electric toothbrush is made of bamboo, as are the replaceable heads. The bristles on the heads are made of castor beans, so there is zero plastic use and zero plastic waste each time you replace the head.
Further, you can toss the entire head, including the bristles, right into your compost pile. Not only does this allow you to reduce plastic consumption, but it also allows you to reduce waste sent to landfills and create useable compost. Combined, these actions cut down on the impact of landfills such as fuel for trucking, water, and air pollution, as well as the impact of fertilizer such as manufacturing and water pollution.
If you want to learn more about choosing a sustainable toothbrush, Go Green Post broke down the impact of different toothbrush options. The analysis shows how a bamboo electric toothbrush could be the most sustainable toothbrush. Please find this article here.